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Ame Son - Catalyze (1970)

Ame Son to francuska grupa działająca pod koniec lat sześćdziesiątych i na początku lat 70-tych. Stylistycznie bardzo zbliżona do Gong. Zresztą niektórzy muzycy uczestniczyli w kilku sesjach zorganizowanych przez Daevida Allena. Jest to mieszanina jazz rocka, psychedelii i awangardy. Moim skromnym zdaniem jedna z najciekawszych francuskich grup tego okresu.

The end of the '60s saw many groups transitioning from psychedelic to progressive rock. One of these, Ame Son, was one of the earliest French rock bands to go beyond the conventional rock & roll of the time. Combining elements of psychedelic rock with avant jazz, they created a unique, improvised rock sound that laid the path for numerous other French progressive groups who stretched the boarders between rock and free jazz. Ame Son's history goes back to the mid-'60s, when guitarist Bernard Lavialle, guitarist/vocalist Bernard Stizi, bassist Patrick Fontaine, and drummer Marc Blanc formed the group Les Primitivs. From 1965 to 1967, this rock band, influenced by British blues rock like the Yardbirds, played in and around Paris and also for three months on the island of Corsica. When Stizi left at the end of 1967, the other three formed Expression, a more psychedelic band that gigged not only at clubs but also progressive art exhibits as well. When Lavialle temporarily joined the Army, Blanc and Fontaine joined Bananamoon, Daevid Allen's group after leaving Soft Machine and before founding Gong, to play some gigs in Spain in the summer of 1968 and southern France early the next year. Allen's influence in particular, as well as that of the underground psychedelic scene that came out of London that was mostly around the UFO club, was crucial to the development of the musicians by the time Lavialle rejoined the others in June 1969, along with flutist Francois Garrel. At that time, Ame Son, which roughly means soul song or expressive song in French, was born. Within three months, they signed with BYG Records and in two days in London recorded the instrumental tracks of their only proper album. With vocals and final mixing done in October, Catalyse came out in early 1970. Their live performances at large festivals around France over the next year and a half met with both public and critical success, but the band broke up in June 1971. A couple years later, the band re-formed with the addition of guest musicians Jacques Dudon, Alain Renaud, and Jean-Louis Auber and lasted for another few years. Blanc went on to do some solo work under the name Ame Songs in the 1980s and the band re-formed in 1995 for some concerts with avant-garde guitarist Jean Francois Pauvros -- Rolf Semprebon, All Music Guide

Ame Son were one of the first progressive/psychedelic bands in France. Most members of the band played with Daevid Allen of Gong after Allen was denied entrance to England due to visa problems, which basically ended Daevid's tour of duty with Soft Machine. When Allen was with them, they were known as Bananamoon, and after Allen's departure to form Gong, they renamed themselves Ame Son.

The music on "Catalyse" is very much like a cross between early Gong and "Jet Propelled" era Soft Machine. The shorthand explanation would be psychedelic improv-jam rock with jazzy overtones provided by the flute of Francois Garrel, while guitarist Bernard Lavielle provides appropriately fuzzed-out bliss. Vocals are rough but in most cases mercifully brief.

The music is rewarding and inventive, but the recording quality distracts somewhat. Recording quality is about what you would expect for an album of this time and place; American and British musicians in the 1960's had trouble getting recording engineers and producers to understand their visions, and the troubles were tenfold for French and other European psych/prog rockers. Spalax's typically lackadaisical CD "remastering" does not help much in this regard either. To give you a point of reference, the production quality is about the same as it is on 13th Floor Elevators albums.

If you can get past the rough recording quality, "Catalyse" is a bit of a jewel in the rough for Gong fans and for anyone who likes psychedelia. Ame Son was important in the history of French rock for being one of the first bands who broke out of the three-minute pop song ghetto, and deserve attention on that basis. Not a masterpiece, but not bad either; it takes a few listens to understand what's going on, but overall it's worth it.

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3 komentarze:

Ankh pisze...


pausts pisze...

Dzięki,polecam także ich album "Primitive Expression".

Conradino Beb pisze...

Brzmi bardzo ciekawie!

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