Heiner Goebbels / Alfred 23 Harth

Live à Victoriaville

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Live à Victoriaville documents the first North American concert by the duo of Heiner Goebbels and Alfred 23 Harth (half of the avant rock quartet Cassiber). Both musicians play many instruments, including keyboards, reeds, brass, Chinese violin, percussion, and voice. The first half of the album (side A of the original LP) showcases five compositions by the duo, of which "The Ballade of the Durable Grey Goose" is the most convincing: complex, lyrical, and witty. The playful "The Laughing and the Crying Man" provides a short highlight too. The second half contains the magnum opus "The Peking Opera" surrounded by surprising cover tunes. The 13-minute piece, which would serve a few years later as the basis for Ground Zero's riveting album Revolutionary Pekinese Opera, is given a great live treatment. The complex piece calls for octopusian qualities as both musicians handle many instruments at once while following a tape. Rameau's classical Le Rappel des Oiseaux and the false cabaret anthem "At Last I Am Free" make a very odd framing for this piece, but somehow it works out. North American releases by this duo are close to nonexistent; for this reason alone, Live à Victoriaville is an interesting album. The recording is just a little crude, but the quality of the performance more than makes up for it. Goebbels and Harth, inside and outside Cassiber, had a knack for turning seemingly harmless melodies into avant-gardist flags. This album sheds extra light on their work.

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