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Only those who read all the credits on record liner notes will know the full details: Areski is of course Brigitte Fontaine's partner in life, but also her creative alter ego, and the composer of the music of most of her songs. Even though it was his wife Brigitte and not him who wrote the lyrics, Areski is a poet in his own right. Furthermore, he is polyvalent: composing, arranging, singing, improvising, playing every possible instrument and even acting! Areski, to sum up, is the perfect mix of the tradition of Munir Bashir with the European “sophistication” of someone like Jean-Claude Vannier, one foot permanently in Versailles (where he was born) and the maghreb. Areski, is left bank French songs without the stylistic effects, revised and updated through contact with arab-andalusian music. He is a Living Theatre style happening with a dose of cosmic free jazz; surrealist poetry viewed through the prism of Kabyle culture… All that and a lot more!

Areski honed his talent observing the stars of traditional chaâbi, testing it out in bars and dives before meeting, during military service, the singer Jacques Higelin with whom he would record his first cult album, and who would present him to his wife-to-be, Brigitte Fontaine. Between 1969 and 1980, with her, Areski would contribute an essential chapter to French underground music including classics such as Comme à la radio (with the Art Ensemble of Chicago), Je ne connais pas cet homme, L’Incendie, Le Bonheur and Vous et nous. For all that, Areski has never really tried to have a career under his own name, in spite of the wonderful Un Beau matin first published in 1970, and which it is high time to de (re)discover (better late than never). Those already in the know will not be surprised to see, especially, Jean-Charles Capon, author of the inspired L’Univers-solitude, Brigitte Fontaine of course, or Daniel Vallancien, author of a no-less inspired duo with saxophonist Philippe Maté. All contributing to an acerbic poetic universe, concerned but never militant, and open to worldwide influences long before they became a fashion.

Inspired, poetic, in a word essential: Un Beau Matin is one of the best albums of the French underground produced by Pierre Barouh on his label Saravah, alongside those by Maurice Lemaître, Catharsis, Claude Yvans, Mahjun, Barney Wilen, Cohelmec Ensemble et Michel Roques.

Pinhas with Patrick Gauthier, François Auger and Didier Batard, from 1979; whilst Klaus Blasquiz’ vocal spot adumbrates the links between Heldon and Magma, and runs back to his time with Pinhas in Blues Convention.
The knockout here is Boléro, twenty minutes of sound and fury, lit up by the sequencers of engineer Didier Badez.


LP Info: Dark blue transparent vinyl

The fifth album, from 1976, originally out on Cobra. ‘Intense, violent, bitter, abrasive, uncompromising prefigurations of Industrial and post-rock. It is easy to understand why Merzbow, Wolf Eyes and Oren Ambarchi all wanted to collaborate. Whilst run-of-the-mill comparisons between Heldon/Pinhas and King Crimson/Fripp are hitherto sustainable, Un Rêve Sans Conséquence Spéciale explosively busts open new ground.’


LP Info: Dark purple transparent vinyl

Previously unreleased recordings from 1978, 1981 and 1982, conceived for choreographers. The bandoneon-playing of the Argentinian Juan Mosalini, electric piano by Jacques Denjean, electroacoustics by Bruno Menny and none other than Didier Malherbe from Gong are swirled into a mix of spinet dulcimer, flute, hurdy-gurdy and other-worldly singing (amongst other ingredients), all steeping together in the sonic atmosphere of a vintage acid-folk freak-out. Futher in the sonic fringes than "Maison Rose", this collection is rich with woody tones and opiated scent, perfect for communal visualisation or lucid dreamers.

France's Souffle Continu make a welcome return to the Piccadilly shelves this week with a first time on vinyl for Richard Pinhas and John Livengood's odd-ball electronic master-blast "Cyborg Sally". Originally released in 1994, this uncompromising concoction of swirling synth drones, chilly ambience and demented machine funk marked the return of underground hero and electronic pioneer Ricahrd Pinhas after a few fallow years, cementing his credentials once and for all. The fruits of a two-year collaboration with John Livengood from Red Noise and Spacecraft, and inspired by Norman Spinrad’s novel Rock Machine, "Cyborg Sally" takes the rumbling beats of well, new beat, the blazing electronics of grunge and the opiated circuitry of New Age and crushes them into a big metallic cube of mangled sound. Striking, cinematic and occasionally stomping, this is the cyberpunk soundtrack to your life...

Superbly named reissue specialists Souffle Continu treat us to a wonderful re-release of Mahjun's seminal second self titled LP on Saravah, originally released in 1974. Recorded with a little help from legendary Brazillian percussionist Nana Vasconcelos, this LP is a lysergic mastepiece as other worldy as its trippy sleeve. Across short interludes, dreamlike compositions and extended trips into the furthest reaches of human consciousness, the ensemble transform their leftist prog folk into wild outernational pyschedelic fusion. If you're looking for some sounds to take you on a mind altering journey, try the fourteen minute "La Ville Pue" on for size.

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