Musique Noise

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Musique Noise belongs to the string of French groups that found their main inspiration in Magma's music, but it sounds very different than most of them. Most of the "zeuhl" groups (the progressive rock…
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Musique Noise belongs to the string of French groups that found their main inspiration in Magma's music, but it sounds very different than most of them. Most of the "zeuhl" groups (the progressive rock style derived from Magma's legacy) focused on further developing Christian Vander's martial rhythms and dark rituals. Musique Noise turned its collective attention to the lighter side of things, using intricate three-part vocal arrangements, positive energy, and a sense of humor rarely found in this field. The group released only one album during its eight years of existence.

The name does not translate to "noise music." "Noise" is an Old French word meaning quarrel -- "chercher des noises" means looking for trouble. Bassist Frédéric Huynh, keyboardist Denis Levasseur, and drummer Philippe Zarka were members of Autopsie, a group also including ex-Eskaton keyboardist Xavier De Raymond. When it collapsed in early 1986, the three of them recruited old friends Jean-Philippe Gallet (lead singer, saxophone) and Marc Montella (trumpet) to write a new arrangement of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, a work at the heart of the aesthetics of zeuhl. The project was abandoned but the quintet began to write some original material, keeping in mind their intention of bringing Orff's choirs into rock music.

In the summer of 1986, two classically trained singers, Isabelle Bruston and Cornélia Schmid, joined the band. Then came a period of activity during which Musique Noise gave its first concerts in small Parisian clubs and began work on what would turn out to be its sole album. Fulmines Regularis was recorded in 1988, after Montella's departure. Released as an LP by the then-young French prog rock label Musea, the album would become a zeuhl classic in specialist circles but otherwise had little impact. The group continued to perform occasionally and write slowly, but in 1990 Schmid called it quits to focus on her career in classical music. Gallet dropped the sax to sing full time, and thus saxophonist Simon Bot Ban Jok was drafted. In 1991 De Raymond, who had kept close ties to the group, joined it officially.

This septet recorded a four-song demo in 1992 as preparation for a second album, but the lack of funding and performance opportunities was sucking the energy out of the group. Bot Ban Jok and Gallet quit in 1993. Zarka's departure less than a year after sounded the dissolution. In 2002 Musea reissued Fulmines Regularis on CD, rechristening it Fulmines Integralis and including the 1992 demos.