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VISITORS

Eclectic Prog • France


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Visitors biography
Visitors was the brain-child of the obscure but infamous French producer/composer Jean-Pierre Massiera. In 1974 he single-handedly recruited a group of nineteen musicians (most notably Didier Lockwood, the jazz violinist who spent a brief tenure touring with Magma and made an indelible mark on their 1975 live album) to record an album of his unusual, progressive compositions.

The resulting LP was a concept album on the theme of extra-terrestrial contact (hence the title Visitors) and was a truly eclectic mix of prog, psych, fusion and zeuhl elements with complex arrangements and often grandiose vocals.

Never really anything more than a studio project, nothing more was seen or heard of Visitors until 1981 when Massiera recruited a new group to record a second (and again self-titled) Visitors album. Unlike the original 1974 LP, Massiera handed most of the writing duties over to other members of the group, and the resulting album bears little resemblance to its predecessor beyond the concept itself. Musically, the album is a synth-dominted mix of rock, pop and electronic sounds which, though still rather quirky at times, is overall a considerably less proggy affair.

The first Visitors album has been released on CD by Musea. The 1981 album is still without a CD release.

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VISITORS discography


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VISITORS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.57 | 24 ratings
Visitors
1974
2.28 | 9 ratings
Visitors
1981

VISITORS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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VISITORS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Visitors by VISITORS album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.57 | 24 ratings

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Visitors
Visitors Eclectic Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars Jean Pierre Massiera has been considered an unhinged genius of sort for having been not only extremely prolific but also by having thought completely out of the box and tackling a dizzying array of musical genres in his wake. He grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina but ultimately ended up in Nice, France where he established himself as a producer. While taking his work seriously when taking on the projects of others, Massiera stepped out of his producer's shoes on many occasions in order to craft his own demented musical projects.

It seems there wasn't anything he wasn't willing to try whether it be psychedelic rock in bands like After Life, Les Chats Renaissance or Human Egg to the kitschy space disco of Herman's Rocket and oddball pop of Phantasmes. Equally at home in the world of progressive rock with bands like Atlantide he also cranked out some of the weirdest one shots in the form of the bizarre Horrific Child and one of his best off-kilter projects was released in 1974 under the name VISITORS.

This is sort of what a musical would sound like if it were dedicated to an extraterrestrial invasion of sort with an alien taking over the recording studio and demanding that only fun and improvisation are allowed. This is a playful alien invasion, not that "War Of The Worlds" crap. To keep it lighthearted, Maassiera gathered up a group of nineteen musicians with the most famous being Didier Lockwood who played violin for Magma at several stages in the 70s, most notably on the outstanding 1975 Live album.

Taking a cue from bands like Mahavishnu Orchestra and the solo career of Jean Luc-Ponty, VISITORS is a crazy mix of frenetic Paganini styled violin, psychedelic rock and zeuhl with crazy bombastic progressive rock outbursts. It's made all the stranger by the fact that once this strange assortment consists of freaked out Hammond organ attacks, frantic Crimsonian guitar attacks and unpredictable moshpit dives into outlandish time signature freakouts. The music also offers a highly melodic form of standard rock with flamboyant vocals sung in both French and English but mostly in wordless form.

While the music can be complex, it often sticks to a simple rock formula in standard 4/4 timing with guitar, bass and drums and heavy doses of Hammond organ. The many spoken vocal parts occur in chant, polyphonic complexities, offer call and response, echo effects or spoken word prose. Wordless utterances appear in dramatic operatic supplications by both male and female vocalists. The fact that 19 musicians come and go make this one a quite startling dramatic turn of events for its mere 31 minute run.

While not exactly otherworldly in a completely removed from Earth sort of way, VISITORS does come across as something you've never experienced before even though huge sections are completely dominated by highly melodic vocal dominated accessible psychedelic rock. While vocal melodies are aplenty, the dramatic flair of the violin is never far behind and often adds a secondary call and response to the primary melodies provided by the polyphonic choral vocal effects. Sudden dramatic changes can spontaneous take the musical train of thought into completely new directions. The album was also fortified with healthy doses of sound effects with various field recordings and manufactured sounds to create a more lysergic and alien sounding smorgasbord.

There's a good reason this one has achieved such a significant cult status! It's utterly bizarre beyond belief as it sometimes takes on a Floydian "Saucerful Of Secrets" persona in the most lysergic organ driven ways possible or it can sound like a more cosmic approach to the musical "Hair!" Either way, it's quite the entertaining listen that never gets boring for a second. This is an album i've owned for years but only seem to break it out when i'm reminded of its existence and with each listen i'm continually blown away by its sheer creative genius. This is excellent music for those of us who love dramatic wildly unique music that you can't believe exists! Take it all with a grain of salt for its a touch cheesy, a little camp and all in good fun.

 Visitors by VISITORS album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.57 | 24 ratings

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Visitors
Visitors Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is an interesting project created by French producer Jean-Pierre Massiera who decided to make his own album for a change instead of helping others do the same. His studio had a carnival-like atmosphere apparently as he invited passing musicians to drop in and play on this. The result is we get a list of 20 musicians who were involved in making this concept album. There seems to be a core of 8 musicians based on the photos in the liner notes. I have the Musea re-issue from 1994. It's about aliens making contact with planet Earth. Cool to see the Lockwood brothers involved, with Francis on Fender Rhodes and Didier on violin. Rather short at under 31 minutes and vocal heavy with the vocal melodies and backing vocals being very prominent making me think this was from 1969 or 1970. So a little dated sounding since this was recorded and released in 1974.

"Dies Irae" is by far the longest tune at over 8 minutes. A dramatic intro gives way to organ and vocal melodies. It kicks in with swirling organ and more before 3 minutes then it settles in after 3 1/2 minutes with vocals and a heavy sound. Spoken words then some ripping guitar 5 minutes in. A calm quickly follows. Violin and vocal melodies before 6 minutes then it's heavy again. "L'extra-Adventure De Villas-Boas" opens with drums and heaviness as vocals join in. The calm with acoustic guitar before 2 minutes is brief as the vocals return quickly with heaviness and violin. Lots of vocal melodies and more acoustic guitar followed by spoken words and laughter.

"Terre-Larbour" opens with growling synths as processed spoken words and active drumming join in. Multi-vocals follow and they get theatrical but stop before 1 1/2 minutes as synths and drums continue. "Flatwoods Story" is the only song with English lyrics. Rain and thunder to start as drums, vocals, bass and relaxed guitar take over. Backing vocals with spoken words just before a minute with spacey synths. It kicks back in but ends with spoken words, drums and guitar. "Nous" opens with sounds that seem to go in circles as drums support. Violin will come and go and vocals arrive 1 1/2 minutes in. It kicks back in after 2 minutes with violin over top.

"Visitors" is the only instrumental. It's haunting to begin with as vocal melodies join in along with bass and synth-like sounds. It kicks in just before a minute. Bass, piano and violin lead around 2 minutes as drums continue. Back to that earlier sound from just before a minute. "Le Retour Des Dieux" ends the album and it begins with some creepy spoken words and a solemn atmosphere. Outbursts of power come and go. Vocals follow and he sounds like a "Metal" singer here singing with passion. Drums only after 2 minutes then the violin joins in then vocal melodies to the end.

A pretty good album actually but for my tastes I can't give this more than 3 stars.

 Visitors by VISITORS album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.57 | 24 ratings

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Visitors
Visitors Eclectic Prog

Review by Utnapishtim

4 stars Is always a pleasure to find new prog gems. In Prog field is hard to know all the bands and artists, but certainly French Prog has often gives strange jewels as ETRON FOU LELOUBLAN , ATOLL. So lest go on a 31 minutes journey with some Alien!

This Visitors Project comes thank to the eclectic Jean-Pierre Massiera. He. singer, composer, co-producer (with Claude Lemoine producer of ROCKETS band), engineer, after some change of musical styles since 1960, starts this project enlisting 19 musicians, among which the most famous is the violinist Didier Lockwood that has played also with most known MAGMA. In another incarnation of the band with the same name Massiera / Lemoine released another album more disco oriented (such other Massiera projects).

On a site I've found a little curiosity. For legal issues, it seems that in USA the band used the pseudonym of FORCE 5, but I've found nothing with this other name.

The album is a Concept about extraterrestrial encounters. The opening song is a small suite very interesting that starts with a synthesizer and after chorus play a musical intro used also by symphonic band GRACIOUS into the song "Hell" (I don't know the origin, maybe classics) in their first album "Gracious!". The sound is often heavy-psych with violin passages and chorus. Sudden "stop -and-go" make unpredictable album. The songs texts are both in French (very appreciable for psychedelia in the beautiful "L'Extra-Aventure de Villas-Boas") and English in "Flatwoods story".

"Terre Larbour" (the name is a parody of Pearl Harbour) introduces on a synthesizer background the Alien's speech with a wonderful psychedelic chorus which repeat the title song between desperate shouts, as in an apocalyptic scene of alien contact. It will be included in a shorter version, to the first ROCKETS album. "Nous" is characterized by Synths, chorus and Lockwood violin. This together with "Visitors" remember me one shot band PLAT DU JOUR, with a good psychedelic rhythm. The album ends with an apocalyptic atmospheres in "Le retour des Dieux" which sounds like a good french hard rock, characterized by the usual backing vocals that sometimes remember me first DEEP PURPLE in "Child In Time".

A lost obscure gem, very interesting and surely unique. A Prog album between Psychedelia and good art rock.

4 Stars - Excellent Discovery

 Visitors by VISITORS album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.57 | 24 ratings

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Visitors
Visitors Eclectic Prog

Review by VOTOMS

2 stars Visitors was a french project from the producer Jean-Pierre Massiera. After write about their second album (it was a long time ago), I will write something about this debut, a very unique and obscure album. But unfortunattely, is not the kind of "unique" that captivates me. The alien at the album cover art made me look forward to this album, and well, I had great expectations. And it wasn't so great.

The trippy first track intro is a good album opening, but when the vocal begins, the song lost the previous vibe and vocals are boring. The second track is irrelevant, is not catchy, just a bad heavy prog track. Terra Larbour, the third, is an space environmental/dark ambient track, but the supposed to be "extra-terrestrial" voices really sucks! And this boring vocals stand still the whole album. Is something like a bad Zeuhl attempt. Nous is an instrumental track, so it's a good one. Not so memorable though. The self-titled Visitors track is the best one, another instrumental and this time, very good. The bass riff is badass and the violin playing the same riff is cool. The ending track is another uncatchy track. This french band had good passages, but they weren't creative enough for me.

The album is pretty ecletic, has some weird variations between slow symphonic passages and heavy prog, featuring hammond organs and stuff that I think everyone here is able to like. But in this case, there's something missing in Massiera works. And he probably didn't found it until the second album.

 Visitors by VISITORS album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.57 | 24 ratings

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Visitors
Visitors Eclectic Prog

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars A desperate cry from the universe is the legendary Visitors LP and as all distant signals from the cosmos, was outdated before it was ever audible to our ears, even in 1974. But the cognoscenti are right about this one; it is a beaut of progressive psychedelia with tons of character and flavor.

As is so common with the best of the great unwashed, Visitors has a power all its own, an urgent need to document what would undoubtedly be a brief moment of clarity, vision, and friggin great rock music that if left unrecorded would never see any daylight at all. Somehow during the craziness of the industry in '74, singer/composer Jean-Pierre Massiera and friends got it done. There is no doubt the session possesses a muddy, obscured sound the finest techs in the world probably couldn't do much for. Massiera had produced it on the go with little time and a huge roster of twenty+ musicians & vocalists, others not slated but sitting-in, and happenings unplanned but welcomed. But like the dusty-tube atmosphere of a surf band's rehearsal basement in 1959, sometimes what we don't hear is just as important. Heartsick prog requiem 'Dies Irae' is a gorgeous eight-minute rock orchestration heavy with guitars, swirling organs and basses, Didier Lockwood's single fiddle, all walled by the druidic Spaghetti Western vocals six & seven deep. The extraterrestrial theme is apparent for tortured 'Terre-Larbour', odd 'Flatwoods Story' features an orator in English and funny golden age sci-fi sounds, but 'Nous' is rather modern for its time as reflected in the MiniMoog of Jean-Claude Tarin. Wonderful histrionics and some very cool violin/guitar/organ playoffs in the title (with a subtle nod to Brubeck) and the short but satisfying set caps with 'Le retour des dieux' reflecting more of the cinematic Ennio Morricone influence.

Under the circumstances of its production and the tiny window available to implement it, the record is quite an achievement and, it should be no surprise, did not sell. The players all went their separate ways - Lockwood to Magma and later Zao, Massiera producing prog band Atlantide - but fortunately did not squander the time and motivation to leave behind this little rock daydream.

 Visitors by VISITORS album cover Studio Album, 1981
2.28 | 9 ratings

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Visitors
Visitors Eclectic Prog

Review by VOTOMS

2 stars Why this? This amazing art cover from space and... it's not prog rock. The first track ( V-I-S-I-T- O-R-S '81) it's some kind of poop, sorry, I meant pop. Poor italo disco. The album tries to attack with a futuristic pop/rock music, but, aside from few interesting riffs and effects, it's a bad album. For me, Don't Squeeze and Joyo saves the album, because it really kept my interest, both parts. Listening to some tracks like Everybody Now and Mental Slavery, I can clearly see that, the music it would be better availed. Boring vocals. When the riffs came into their mind, they were not able to finish the songs decently.
 Visitors by VISITORS album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.57 | 24 ratings

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Visitors
Visitors Eclectic Prog

Review by zravkapt
Special Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

4 stars Visitors was a project of French producer Jean-Pierre Massiera. He hired musicans to play on this album, the most famous of which is violinist Didier Lockwood who played with Magma. There would be one more Visitors album in 1981, but it's more New Wave sounding. The music here is very 70s, but not extremely dated. A mix of different prog styles at the time. Nothing truly original but a good and consistent album. This is a concept album about extraterrestrials visiting Earth. The majority of vocals are in French.

"Dies Irae" is the longest song which you can listen to on PA. Starts with backwards tape effects, then hymnal voices and music. Later goes into some start/stop playing. More hymnal vocals with organ. Then some Emerson-style organ playing. Guitar goes back and forth and then a symphonic rock part. Some harmony singing and then talking. After some cool 70s style hard rock before just cymbals. Then violin and female vocals. A slowed down version of symphonic part. Tempo increases.

"L'extra-Aventure de Villas-Boas" has French hard rock with a cool chorus featuring female vocals. Later acoustic guitar and violin. After some talking and female vocals going "ah-oh". Goes back to hard rock part but chorus is now male vocals. "Terre Larbour" starts with spacey synth and jazzy drumming. Magma-like talking and laughing. Then chanting, which gets louder and louder until there is just screaming. "Flatwoods Story" has lyrics in English. I think Flatwoods is either in the US or UK and was the scene of a famous alien abduction. Maybe not. Starts with storm noises. I like the chorus with narration and back up vocals going "ahhh".

"Nous" is mostly synths, violin and drums before just percussion and some vocals. Whole band then joins in and a violin solo. "Visitors" has ghost-like vocals and spacey effects to start. Then sinister clavinet and some funky Gentle Giant style guitar and violin playing in unison. Some female vocals. Music changes and then a violin solo. After a great part with call and response wordless vocals. Love that part. Goes back to the funky Gentle Giant part. "Le Retour des Dieux" has creepy monster-like whispering before some French hard rock. In the middle is a slow paced bass drum and snare with symphonic synth and violin. Then wordless vocals.

A great album. I would recommend it. Definately not a masterpiece, but a great addition to your collection. 4 stars.

Thanks to trouserpress for the artist addition.

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