Ivan Rebrof, Lonely Hearts Club Band

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This is a great avant rock album that went by largely unnoticed. Kourgane performs a kind of playful rock music that's complex like a Frank Zappa anthem, horn-laden and groovy like the best Ne Zhdali songs, and humorous like only the French (and maybe the Czech and Dutch) can make them. The group is fronted by Abdou Haze, a singer with a sleazy voice that's sultry and menacing. Trumpeter Nimrud and saxophonist Urousse lock in with guitarist Pharzoès to provide catchy licks. The rhythm section of Aldouraz (bass) and Toktabaï (drums) is impressive and hard rocking. Each of the nine songs tells a twisted tale made of silly exoticisms and wordplays: Gengis Khan's biography is revised through the dentist's small mirror, the obscure songwriter Ivan Rebrof goes through a mythification process, and Laars Von Trier's film The Idiots is awarded a tribute song. Lyrics are in French and English, often jumping from one to the other in the same song, making them more unintelligible than anything else. Highlights include the mad "Gengis Khanine" (which includes a quote from the Beatles' "Come Together"), "Koch Peï Aquilidés," and "Cuckoo (Was Laughed)," but there is not a single weak track on this album. Ivan Rebrof, Lonely Hearts Club Band takes listeners back to the 1980s, when the rock song was still a suitable medium for avant-garde pranksters and humor the best way to get your subversive message across. In the tradition of Étron Fou Leloublan, the Art Bears, Gravity-era Fred Frith, and the heyday of the Rec Rec label, but clutching at a sound of their own, Kourgane's CD is candy for the avant buff with a funny (and groovy) bone. Highly recommended.