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Philippe Besombes

Progressive Electronic

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Philippe Besombes Libra album cover
3.70 | 17 ratings | 3 reviews | 19% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1975

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. La Plage (2:51)
2. Rugby (1:54)
3. Theme Grave (1:58)
4. Ballade en Vélo (2:14)
5. Les Diapos (2:04)
6. Cérémonie (3:19)
7. Jaune (1:51)
8. PJF 261 (3:19)
9. Raggacountry (3:12)
10. Appel de Libra (1:10)
11. Poursuite (1:18)
12. La Ville (4:32)
13. Les Cosmonautes (2:12)
14. Avécandista (6:00)
15. Tis a Song (2:35)

Line-up / Musicians

Philippe Besombes & guests / guitars, synths, voice, drums, collage sounds

Releases information

Tapioca TP 10011
2004 MOI

Thanks to Philippe Blache for the addition
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PHILIPPE BESOMBES Libra ratings distribution

(17 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (44%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars psychedelic "super project" from Philippe Besombes, initially recorded for a little movie. Extremely eclectic and intelligent, this effort conciliate unique sources of sounds mixed to luminous analog synth /organ textures, occasionally punctuated by voices, and acoustic, electric instruments. Unusual instrumentation including a vast exploration electronic gadgets and "collages". "La plage" is weird as hell, a difficult but subliminal listening for "dark" electric guitar chords, "somnambulist", linear organ sounds and fantomatic- hysterical voices, totally "orgasmic" vibration. "Rugby" is sonic, freak n roll composition with hammering drums, interstellar noises and freakish bass lines, "mega cosmic" trip! "Theme Grave" delivers a "sinister", "plaintive" electronic funeral theme for glacial organic chords, spectral voices in the distance. "Ballade en velo" is a musical rupture, delivering a charming folk ensemble for brass instruments and acoustic guitars, a sunny melody is floating in the air. "Ceremonie" reveals an almost religious, incredibly awesome organ melodie accompanied by church like chorus coming from an other world, eternal! Despite the incredible personal atmospheres delivered in each composition I regret that there aren't any «epic» songs, playing with time and duration for a better progression in the musical movement. Anyway this remark is minor. A wonderful, "hyper-inventive" album with no equivalent elsewhere. At the top of the French prog electronic classics! Far better than Philippe Besombes side project called "hydravion".
Review by Sean Trane
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Originally a chemist, preparing a PhD at the university of Paris, but always fiddling around with free jazz and contemporary music for a passion, even working with a ballet troupe until the summer of 72, when Besombes embarked on a typical hippie trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan. On his returning, he met Jean-Michel Jarre (then still working for a radio research centre) and started a duo with him, playing electronic music and played live a few gigs in early 73. Commissioned by Pattern (an association of moviemakers) for the soundtrack of a seldom-seen movie Libra, Besombes took quite a while to work on this album, thus ending informally the Jarre partnership. The movie project proved difficult, because it became a dialogue-less 90-min project that was, as usual, under-financed. When it finally came out in 75, the project was critically well received, but remained confidential.

The album has a very wide scope ranging from strange TD synths and sounding like Pierre Henry (the opening Plage with its orgasmic voices and q) to some weird "bruitage" ala Faust (Les Diapos), passing through some Ron Geesin-like Floyd moments (the Ballade En Velo with the Geesin-like horns ala AHM) and some pure RnR moments (the out-of-context Boogimmick) and some downright Floyd ambiances (Cérémonie or Jaune, which sounds like Saucerful Of Secrets, the track). You even get some Indian music (Raggacountry) and some almost-normal prog rock (Hache 06) and much more. The second side holds the longest tracks, but this does not make the album anymore direction, as it ends on a weak English-sung Tis A Song.

While there are some outstanding (and even sublime moments), there are some rather embarrassing moments as well. The album is actually quite uneven and it goes a bit aimlessly in every direction. While I can never thank enough MIO to release such lost French gems, I wish they'd have given us some kind of info on the origins of the four bonus tracks, but most likely, they were part of the movie as well, since they sound quite a bit like the rest of the album. My guess is that if MIO records named the-is album Libra Vol.1, there will be yet another one.

Besombes will record a second "solo" album in 76 than found Hydravion (his best-known project in 78), before recording the last of the album (eponymous) I know him to have recorded in 79. Nevertheless, this debut album is very much worth investigating it, even if I would not call this work essential.

Review by Dobermensch
3 stars One time member of French mentalist band 'Pôle' and 'Hydravion', Philippe Besombes is probably more well known due to the 'Nurse With Wound' list rather than his actual recordings.

Hallucinogenic substances surely played a large part in this sprawling weird album from '75. Being nowhere near as electronic as his contemporary releases with said bands, it still sounds incredibly unusual, particularly considering he was only only 24 years of age.

Comparisons vary from Alvin Curran, MEV, Stockhausen and Xenakis, only a bit more accessible. Who on earth is this guy with his echoing bells, tinkling piano and almost native American vocals? Well, apparently he was a big friend of Jean Michel Jarre, although I find that hard to believe...

More than anything 'Libra' is a Psychedelic album, laden with a whole lot of very unusual effects and atonal passages for a 1975 recording. The only 'normal' tune would have to be 'Tis A Song' which is so ordinary it sounds as though it's from a Max Bygraves album complete with French vocals but thankfully only lasts 2 mins 33secs. However, even that one has the thin reedy voice thrust through electronic filters.

In many ways listening to 'Libra' is like having big soft alien hypodermic needles inserted very slowly into your brain. Sprinklings of piano and fat bloops of electronics occasioned by the odd effected electric guitar squelch about like Abominable Snowmen having a party in Anchorage.

Certainly not an album for the casual listener, 'Libra' demands close attention and even then you may find it VERY annoying.

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