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Ame Son - Catalyse CD (album) cover

CATALYSE

Ame Son

Psychedelic/Space Rock


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oliverstoned
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Ame son was a late 60's, early 70's french underground band influenced by early Gong as two members were part of Daevid Allen's Bananamoon band. They released this unique album in '70. This is genuine psychedelism, with long jams leaded by a thrilling flute, loads of excellent psychedelic guitar and even some wha wha on electrified flute. The instrumental moments are excellent, whereas the moments featuring (approximate) singing are more painful and reveal a pop and raw side. Fortunately, the "jam" moments predominate. The album suffers from an amateurish sound and poor production, but remains a very good testimony of the early french progressive scene, with the debut's freshness, when psychedelism and progressive were closely melted.
Report this review (#87794)
Posted Monday, August 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars this is another great find, the lyrics are simple and, well the ones you can undersand because the rest are in french, very well placed with in the musical composition. the full albums follows the same "ring" that could be perceived from the fist couple of tracks, the play between the guitar and the flute, what was not mentioned above was the very well defined very well played set of drums, wich is a definite point of setting the spacey, raunchy mood for the whole album, specially in tracks like "Coeur foue....". this albums is very free and fluid and I would amply recomend it.
Report this review (#88092)
Posted Thursday, August 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
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Prog Folk
4 stars Ame Son's only album is one of the earliest "prog" French record (Sept 69) but really it is still very much a psychedelic thing, but undeniably progressive. This groups had roots in the mid-60's under the name of Les Primitiv's and were playing all over France and had been exposed to early Soft Machine on these last's frequent tours of France, especially on the Riviera. As one of their members got drafted in the army, the group went in lethargy and some members started playing with Daevid Allen's Bananamoon in 68 and 69. Upon the return of the drafted, the group reformed and changed their name to Ame Son with flutist Garrel. Signed to Byg Records, Ame Son's album was recorded in two days in London (French vocals later added in a Paris studio) and has Allen and early Soft Machine written all over it, without appearing like a derivate product either. It was generally well received by the press and the public, and they participated in most major festivals in France and Belgium.

To describe their music to progheads is not that easy, because their particular type of psych rock is often truly improvisational, but if dissonant, it did not go in the free-jazz and is much wiser/pleasant than Crimson's Moonchild (note: they don't sound like them at all). Basically a guitar trio with a signing flutist (but not our Tull Mad Flauter, more like Bloomdido Bad De Grass Malherbe), their sound approaches a Floyd-ish (circa Saucerful or live Ummagumma), a calmer Guru Guru (UFO and Hinten) and early Gong (Continental Circus OST), even if vocally they might have been stronger (but as I warned above, recording vocals in a different studio than the music, probably caused difficulties). But Ame Son managed to remain accessible by never over-stretching their talents or their improvisations. In many ways, Catalyse reminds me of Dashiell Hedayatt's jaw-dropping Obsolete (which is also Gong-related) with their raw hippy dreamy rock. Most of their tracks (none shorter than six minutes) are subdivided into sections of which Coeur Fou and Reborn This Morning are the highlights, but there are some real flaws: Coup De H/Sable Mouvants is not only slightly weaker, but definitely not well recorded. Two bonus tracks from a single are added on the Spalax Cd reissue, and they are fairly well in the spirit of the album (even if shorter), but a good remastering job is more than needed for that single and the full album.

After touring extensively France for two years, the group split up in mid-71, after some recording sessions to reform in 73 with a different line-up and made recordings, which also did not materialize, in a second album. AS's only album is one of those French pearl that qualifies as psych proto-prog and is very much recommended to anyone into Gong, Daevid or early Softs and untamed Floyd. For my part, I find this album stunning and in my French top 20 - Zeuhl notwithstanding.

Report this review (#117708)
Posted Monday, April 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Considered as one of the first trully progressive rock bands in France,AME SON were the brainchild of Marc Blanc and Patrick Fontaine,who both had played with Daevid Allen in Daevid Allen's BannanaMoon during a year period between 1968 and 1969.They decided to form their own band in 1969 in Paris along with Francois Garrel and Bernard Lavialle.AME SON signed with BYG Records,recored the instrumental parts of their first album in London within two days with the final mixing taking place in October 69'.In early 70' ''Catalyse'' sees the light.A CD re-issue on Spalax brough this work out of darkness.

STYLE: Having played next to Daevid Allen,it is rather impossible both Blanc and Fontaine not to be influenced by this significant figure.AME SON blended 60's Psychedelia with a newly established complicated rock sound full of free jamming parts and weird passages to contribute on their own way to what we call today early progressive rock movement.All tracks contain plenty of obscure flute parts,trully psychedelic vocals,somewhat dated and trembling guitars but also stable performance on bass and deep drums all the way.

INFLUENCES/SOUNDS LIKE: GONG are the first band that sticks to your mind and it is more than sure that AME SON have given their albums a lot of spins to inspire themselves...but add also some elements of pre-70's PINK FLOYD in the mixture.

PLUS: This is very obscure and experimental music,considering the time of its release.Quite long compositions ranging from 6 to 9 minutes are a daring step for 1970.The flute parts are dominant and, for me, this is certainly the strong point of this album.A very interesting rhythm section makes the album even more challenging.Vocals are at times expressive and intense. A few bizarre melodies,again based heavily on flutes, are very captivating.

MINUS: As I am not a big fan of GONG or early FLOYD,this style of music leaves me a neutral taste.Additionally guitars are very dated,if not the whole album.The parts of the album closer to Psychedelic Pop leave me also cold.Some jamming parts are good,but other one sound totally meaningless to my ears.Vocals are mediocre for most of the album's running time.

WILL APPEAL TO: I would dare to say that ''Catalyse'' would be a moving experience only to those who were part of the 60/70's transession from Psychedelic Pop to Psychedelic Rock.Anyone deep into GONG or Syd Barrett-era PINK FLOYD will also like this one.

CONCLUSION/RATING: I think I will rate this album having in mind how important it was around the time it was released and I will give ''Catalyse'' 3 stars,though my true rating is closer to 2-2.5...''Catalyse'' didn't stand well against the sands of time,but it remains a ground-breaking experience for early 70's.Approach,after listening to some samples.

Report this review (#288557)
Posted Monday, June 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars French band Ame Son, best known as the remnants of Daevid Allen's Bananamoon band, released an interesting psychedelic LP at the dawn of the 70's. Some reviewers here on PA have compared "Catalyse" to Gong's first album, but I tend to disagree with that assertion.

Yes, both albums are, of course, psychedelic in nature. However, while Gong's debut reflects Allen's quirky humor, Ame Son presents a more serious, darker psychedelia. Think Saucerful of Secrets to More Soundtrack era Pink Floyd, and now you're in the ballpark. Then add some mediocre vocals (in English and French) including slightly poppy choruses here and there, along with just a touch of Krautrock. There is also some very nice flute playing by Francois Garrel, sometimes with effects, which adds a slightly jazzy feel in some spots as well. Then there is what some feel is the "dated" guitar sound. I, personally, love the distorted, psychedelic effects-laden guitar sound that Bernard Lavialle lays down on this album. Dated or not, it just sounds cool. The thick tone of Patrick Fontaine's bass and the solid drum work of Marc Blanc create a stoned-out foundation for the music to float across.

As for the songs themselves, they are a concoction of different ideas and/or movements peppered with experimental soundscapes (see Pink Floyd and Krautrock references above). Definitely progressive in composition, if not in performance. What I mean is that the playing is on the loose side - no tight, complex time changes or dizzying solos here. This, I feel adds to the psychedelic, stoner feel to the music, enhancing the listening experience.

As for the weaknesses on "Catalyse," I would say the vocals and the occasionally poppy sound in parts takes away some of the enjoyment for me, but others might like the variety it gives the album. In-between those slightly poppy sections, though, are some excellent tabs of trippy rock for late night get-togethers. 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 because I feel Ame Son's "Cataylse" deserves some more attention.

Report this review (#2240929)
Posted Tuesday, July 30, 2019 | Review Permalink

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