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Chico Magnetic Band (1971)

Pod koniec lat sześćdziesiątych i na początku lat siedemdziesiątych nastąpiła prawdziwa eksplozja różnych muzycznych pomysłów, które skutkowały powstaniem bardziej lub mniej znanych później grup i ciekawych a czasem wręcz beznadziejnych płyt. Było tego prawdziwe zatrzęsienie. Podzielę się w tym miejscu swoją małą refleksją odnośnie tych produkcji. Rynek płyt kompaktowych umorzliwił wielu osobom poznanie całkowicie nieznanych lub legendarnych grup, których muzyka była niedostępna z powodu małych nakładów. Okazuje się, że spora częśc tych kultowych pozycji reprezentuje dosyć niski poziom. Tak na prawdę tylko nieliczna grupa tych zespołów broni się swoją muzyką. Do tych grup należy z pewnością francuska grupa Chico Magnetic Band, która w roku 1971 wydała rewelacyjną płytę. Muzycy byli z pewnością pod dużym wpływem Jimi Hendrixa, ale nie byli jedynie naśladowcami. Utwory mają swoje charakterystyczne i oryginalne brzmienie. Grupa też eksperymentowała z dźwiękiem. Wielka szkoda, że pozostawiła tylko jedną płytę.

Formed in Lyon in 1969 as Chico & The Slow Death because they meant it (man), the following year they renamed themselves Chico Magnetic Band, comprised of: Chico on death throttle vocals, Patrick Garel on pounding dunderhead drums, Alain Mazet on Richter scale raising bass and Bernard Monneri on howlingly fierce shred guitar with attached fuzz/wah hardwired directly into his frontal lobes. And what this crew laid down was a freewheeling and loose mess that created its own language, cycling as it does through a back catalogue of the collective id, the rejected odd and the accepted stinky -- as though every emotion every uttered for generations and every symbolic thrust of the battering ram against the gates of nothingness have touched down all on one album with an overdose of ESP.

Released on the tiny Disques Vogue subsidiary label Box Office, “Chico Magnetic Band” was recorded at two different Parisian studios: Europa Sonor (where Magma recorded their first album and Aphrodite’s Child laid down their classic “666” double album) and Wagram Studios. And judging the results of those last two named records, Europa Sonor had some uniquely sounding rooms on their premises, which carried over with the widest sonic spectrum onto “Chico Magnetic Band”. Producer Jean-Pierre Rawson boisterously captured the group’s thunder live in the studio as clear as an unmuddied lake while also resounding with an unstoppable fury. These sounds are everything I search for in rock’n’roll -- it’s tripped out. It’s psychedelic. It’s heavy. It’s very heavy. It roots me to the ground AND it’s got experimental electronic freak outs as well as moments of chilling acoustic introspection that can only portend heavy shit raining down and they never made an umbrella THIS strong to withstand such a torrent. It’s heavy to the soul as well as to the ears, and its not only as bold as love but it’s bolder than fuck and although it only lasts for a half an hour look out because there’s a fire in the hole cause Chico and The Magnetic hommes are not only coming through, but coming through in the biggest way possible.

“Explosion” begins the album not with a whimper nor even a bang but Chico’s entire reason for existence, laid out in one glorious collision after another with Chico yammering, barking, guffawing and channeling consonants in a way irrespective of enunciation and rarely with a literal clue as to what he is freaking out so badly over as his ever-heaving, pulsating soul forces out a welter of incomprehensible sounds in such a riveting and demonstrative manner, they almost make even Damo Suzuki’s English/Japanese/neither dreamtime-to-Samurai-rage vocals seem like the Queen’s English by comparison. Sometimes Chico isn’t singing so much as speaks, whispers or just freaking out at the open air around him as the Magnetic Band furry-freak to it all with total free-rock heaviness. The middle section is somewhat related to Deep Purple’s “Mandrake Root” instrumental break, but minus the Hammond, plus a full-on percussion section and a million times crazier as Chico goes gaga -- at one point whispering then choking out wave after wave of larynx attack in a spittle-spraying frenzy. The percussion line of franticness hangs so long and hollowly behind Chico’s half-spoken, half-muttered, half-laughed and near incomprehensible pronouncements that only point to certain meanings that are instinctively grasped, but cannot be explained, only felt. He’s dropping consonants and vowels left, right and centre and I can only make out “My sweat tastes like a river!” until it’s directed into a 4-lane highway of vocal gibber along the lines of: “Nuuuaaarrgugug!”, “Nene waundah orf zarebbb!” and even “Anmyne cloth iss fallin dawn!!” And the guitar playing is exemplary -- the fuzz wah-wah is used only to shattering degrees for maximum effect --and often. Then Chico’s hairy freak-speak re-enters, translating everything into a random free-form gear stripping speech that abides to no known patterns of human language as behind him the band pump out and wrestle up storm up with each perfectly timed drum fill, each burnt fuzz-o-delic guitar lick accented to perfection and those low grunting Tiger B. Smith vocals getting it all on at once is just crazy... especially for this long. Somehow, the piece finally ends with a deluxe CLANG!-HONK!-TWEET! And you don’t really know if it all really happened out loud or what.

The entire album could just be this first track, and it would STILL be a killer. Ooh-la-fucking-la.

The instrumental “Pop Pull Hair” sees the entry of electronic technical effects let loose by the French experimentalist Jean-Pierre Massiera, and it is far spacier and heavier than the collages he assembled on his previous Les Maledictus Sound LP. The entire track runs backwards with UFO landings, creeping, sucking sounds and an aural casting of long shadows getting longer that threaten to absorb the mental landscape with successive, ominous strides. The quiet entry of “Lot Of Things” and a descending bass begins watchfully like “Sleeping Village” and/or “Brain Brain” by Silberbart with overall “Careful With That Axe” eugenics, as cymbals tap in the darkness. This quickly rises into a shattering display of lurching, blazing guitar accompanied with deeper toned Hendrixian quiver-speak as Chico’s words only SOUND as if they’re run backwards as they dribble out from his mouth like blood. Another tempest hammers out by the band at top volume, and then falls away to another simmering comedown. But when THAT guitar solo ensues so unbelievably heavy, before you fully recover from it it’s onto riffing off the “Beck’s Bolero” section of ‘How Many More Times” with the band in tow and Chico probably flailing on the studio floor and speaking of which: HOW many more times can this record continue to outdo itself?!! Chico then starts freaking in the echoed darkness with pronouncements like Don Van Vliet and Damo Suzuki in a self-strangulation contest ala Vliet’s palsied “Neon Meate Dream of An Octafish” tongue flapping drool-o-thon, “Tra la, tra la, tra la, tra la…tra LA” choking and sputtering well into the fadeout. With strident, thundering drums “We All Come And Go” cracks open and all is blistering Rock once more and nothing else. The middle section sees Chico’s hastily rushed out vocals crazily falling out into a pile of letters that only assemble in time against a distinctly Biergarten schlager for swingin’ steins-accented melody when he (nearly) sings the title “We all come and go...” Swiftly, the band is already locked in together and promptly off across the instrumental section highlighted by a stunningly blistering guitar solo as Patrick Garel’s double time drumming swings between the legs while simultaneously nails down every virgin space in sight and the whole band is giving each other so much damn space to blast off that they never miss a beat with all those quick, vertiginous stops and starts...(...)

Do I need ANTHING else from a record? Fuck, man: “Chico Magnetic Band” stands tall as the spiritual column of that burnt pantheon of heavy truth seeking alongside the Vertigo pressing of “Black Sabbath”, Alice Cooper’s “Pretties For You”, Guru Guru’s “Hinten”, Silberbart’s “4 Times Sound Razing” and Speed Glue & Shinki’s self-titled double LP. (headheritage.co.uk)

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