Various Artists

Cosmic Machine: A Voyage Across French Cosmic & Electronic Avant-Garde 1970-1980

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This overview of French electronic music during the 1970s is a useful, entertaining compilation of artists and sounds, both obscure and well-known. Its context is especially welcome due to the plethora of music from other cultures --the many comps and reissues from Africa, German electronic music, and works by American and British electronic composers from the same period that have been reissued and/or unearthed -- and made widely available in the 21st century. Cosmic Machine is striking for the sheer range of its tracks. It makes no attempt to portray the building of a particular scene. This is the place where the cheesy electro-disco of Pierre Bachelet's "Motel Show" and Serge Gainsbourg's "Le Physique et La Figure" are juxtaposed with the atmospheric sound-library jazz of Alain Goraguer's "Le Bracelet" and the fragmented experimentation of Bernard Fevre's "This Is to Be" (an exclusive that is one of the set's finest moments). Some of the best-known names in French electronic music -- like Cerrone and Jean Michel Jarre -- are given to minor fancies in this setting. That said, more marginal talents, such as Jean-Jacques Perrey, with his beautifully seductive "E.V.A.," and Rene Roussel, with his proto-techno "Caramel," offer the other side, where accessibility and real adventure are balanced and offer surprise.

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