Heldon

Heldon V: Un Reve Sans Consequence Speciale

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This is one of Heldon's most impressive recordings. It offers the continuity of a group sound throughout, with Pinhas' keyboards and guitars supported by Francois Auger playing drums and percussion on most tracks, and additional assistance from Patrick Gauthier on moog synthesizers and either Didier Batard or Janick Top on bass. Stylistically, it's a great leap forward from previous Heldon releases, and much closer to the fusion jazz of Mahavishnu Orchestra, than to conventional psychedelic or prog-rock. The five pieces (one in both a live and a studio version) have no real melodies or themes; rather, they use simple patterns and chord sequences as guidelines, and let the musicians improvise around them. The opening "Marie Virginie C." almost sounds like late Coltrane free jazz, or perhaps like Hendrix at his most frenzied, with guitars and synthesizers howling, and Auger thrashing wildly in the background. Speaking of Auger, he has to be one of the great rock drummers of the era -- not just in France but in all of Europe. He's fast, ferocious and very funky. The second piece on the CD, the very African-sounding "Elephanta," is a showcase for his percussive talents, and through the miracle of overdubbing, he sounds like an entire ethnic percussion orchestra. Another long piece, "Toward the Red Line," has a hard-edged techno quality (in 1976!), thanks to Auger's motoric drumming and the swirling rhythmic pulse of electronic sequencers. For all the fuss made about the experimental nature of early Tangerine Dream, it is doubtful that they ever did anything more radical than this. Gauthier is also a key member of this group, laying down ostinato patterns on mini-moog and moog bass which substantially thicken the group sound and allow Pinhas to soar over the top with electric guitar and his own keyboards. Neither Pinhas or Gauthier are the least bit shy about coaxing some ungodly howls, moans and growls out of their electronics, and their consistent willingness (even eagerness) to get down and dirty gives the music its backbone. This is a very powerful and confident recording, and many years later it remains one of the most successful examples ever of electronic instruments used in an experimental rock context.

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