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Philippe Besombes - Libra (1974)

The soundtrack was recorded in 1974, and it was released a a vinyl LP on the Ple label in 1975. It has since then become a highly sought after LP among collectors of electronic music worldwide, and gets its first vinyl reissue on Wah Wah in a deluxe edition that features a lavish 12'' sized six page booklet with plenty of photographies from the era and information on the making off of Libra in texts written by Philippe Besombes himself and Raul G. Pratginests. 500 copies limited edition.

Philippe Besombes was a Ph.D. student with an abiding interest in contemporary electro-acoustic music, an interest that led him to collaborate and play with Jean Michel Jarre, Jean-Francois Dessoliers (as PJF) and Jean-Louis Rizet (as Pole). Both Besombes' and Pole's notoriety have been sealed by their inclusion on Steven Stapleton and John Fothergill's famous Nurse With Wound Influence List, which appeared in the liner notes for NWW's debut album. Israel's MIO records has been doing quite a good job in issuing rarities from the NWW list lately, and this CD is no exception. Comprising the entire original 1974 Libra LP on Tapioca (composed as the soundtrack to the film of the same name), MIO also generously adds four tracks from the same general time period, filling out the running time of the disc to 76 minutes. Besombes' unorthodox work nervously straddles two strikingly different dimensions - avant-garde electronic composition and the contemporary European prog and psych-rock prevalent at the time. Besombes negotiates this dichotomy rather brilliantly, producing a spectacularly unique album that pulls in influences seemingly from everything the artist ever heard in his lifetime. The paltry three samples below simply can't reflect the true variety of approaches on the album, from the jarring metallic drones and disturbingly strangled vocals of "La Plage" to the cosmic Indian twang of "Raggacountry" to the languid fuzz guitar lounge of "Ballade en Velo." Besombes employs various synthesizers, Moogs, electric sitars, oscillators and a studio full of rock session players to achieve the stunning dynamics of the album. "Boogimmick" is a synth-drenched heavy blues stomp in the style of Hawkwind, but also seeming simultaneously to function as an absurdist parody of such music. "Hache 6" stands out, a heavily phased funk excursion, reminiscent of the kind of eclectic library music uncovered by Luke Vibert and Barry 7 on their Lo Recordings compilations. Before the album is over, I'm treated to an atonal free-jazz meltdown ("La Ville"), a science-fiction fanfare of mind-altering proportions ("Les Cosmonautes") and a lovely psych ballad ("Tis a Song"). Bonus tracks range from a funky breakbeat jazz number with female vocals to an amazingly textured, 20-plus minute piece for prepared piano. Libra is a fantastic album, in that rare category of storied, obscure albums that actually deserve their reputation. (source)

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