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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Kolkhöse Printanium - Vol. 1 Kolkhönitza (D'Autres Cordes, 2008) ****½

Creating a unique voice is not easy, and especially not in the very crowded fusion genre of rock and jazz, but what this French band creates is totally unusual, rich and intense. The band consists of Paul Brousseau on keyboards, voice and drums, Maxime Delpierre on guitars and effects, Hugues Mayot on sax, Philippe Gleizes on drums, and Jean-Philippe Morel on bass and effects. This is possibly one of the darkest albums I have heard in years. The rock rhythms are heavy, over which slow gloomy, unison themes of sax, guitar and keyboard are woven, with electronics, ambient sounds and the slow declamation of texts in Russian. The rhythmic backbone is industrial, repetitive, like heavy production machinery churning out endless identical products at the end of an assembly line. The great tension in the music arises from the solo instruments, trying to escape this repetitive horror, trying to liberate themselves, complaining, yearning, pleading in the meantime. Once in a while, the tune of the piece becomes joyful, almost ironic, as a sugary coating to hide the horror beneath, as on "Stalker AT79". But beauty has its place too, as the slow sax solo on "FSY Tokyo", played with a background of a-rhythmic bells, metal sounds and undefined scraping. Despite the wide variety of approaches in the 15 tracks, the coherence is extremely strong, including in the art work of the album, which depicts "Worker and Kolkhonitza", a Soviet sculpture made by Vera Moukhina in 1937. The band creates a musical world, something apart, very profound without falling into the trap of exaggeration. It is not about the effects, it's about the music. It is also very French, continuing the roads taken by Camisetas and Limousine, but taking it a step further. There is a little bit more drama, more cinematic effect, more staging, but that's part of the listening fun. Not everything works though, and in my mind the last track could have been left out, but that's a minor comment. Despite the music's dark edge, the ultimate hope for humanity message comes through loud and clear. Absolutely impressive.

Listen to some samples

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© stef