Flamen Dialis

Symptome - Dei [Bonus Tracks]

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This lone album by the enigmatic French group Flamen Dialis is one strange beast, and deserves a place in the pantheon of French obscurities just alongside Fille Qui Mousse. But while the latter extended the experimental aspects of Krautrock, Flamen Dialis seems to proceed from the territory of Tangerine Dream. Now, ambient electronics this is not. But keyboards provide the basis for most of the tracks, which all share affinities with the synth-based cosmic music of the '70s. The difference resides in the studio manipulations (lots of backward tapes and speed variations), the voices, the episodes of free improvisation ("Eclats"), the presence of a rock instrumentation -- drums, bass, guitar -- used in unusual ways. Mostly written by Didier Le Gallic, who seems to have vanished after the release of this LP, the music shows a wild sense of experimentation coupled with a taste for naive, repetitive melodies, not unlike Hector Zazou's '70s outfit ZNR. Despite some catchy melodies, the album remains somewhat immaterial and difficult to grasp: even after several listens, one can hardly describe how each track sounds, or even remember a melody. That may explain the fascination and the impression of the deep oddity exerted by Symptome -- Dei. "Dernière Croisade" and "Eclosion" stand out as particularly mesmerizing pieces, but it serves no purpose to point out highlights, as the album works only as a whole -- taking one or two pieces out of context strips them of most of their intangible meaning. This long-lost LP was reissued in 2004 by the label MIO. The CD also contains Flamen Dialis' only single, the 1978 "Découverte" b/w "Autre Chose." Truly a one-of-a-kind item, for the very open-minded listener.

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