Débile Menthol — Emile à la Campagne
(Recrec Music 601, 1984/1994, 2CD)
Débile Menthol — Emile au Jardin Patrologique
(Recrec Music 01, 1981, LP)
Débile Menthol — Battre Campagne
(Recrec Music 06, 1984, LP)
by Peter Thelen, Published 1995-03-01
This two-disc set collects both of Swiss band Debile Menthol's early-80s studio LPs (1981's Emile au Jardin Patrologique and Battre Campagne from '84) into a single package, adding a couple bonus tracks on the first disc. In 1981, as a nine-piece of essentially four guitarists (switching on bass duties), drums, keys, saxes, clarinet and violin, with occasional vocals, their music was an eccentric blend of rock, jazz, neo-classical and folk styles with a unique vision. No doubt drawing some influence by Zappa, Etron Fou, Samla, and Henry Cow, they work through thirteen tracks mostly in the three-to-four minute range. The compositions and arrangements are brilliant and tightly played, always quirky and humorous, with plenty of fire and energy. A general comparison with Samla circa Schlagerns Mystik might be in order, yet here the music leans toward the more angular and experimental, and the instrumental makeup is quite different. The songs are about an even mix of vocals and instrumentals, perhaps a little more of the latter; four band members contribute voices (singing, spoken, shouting, etc). The two bonus tracks are quite good, added at the ends of the original album sides, and they flow well with the rest of the music.
On Battre Campagne the lineup changed some, eliminating the saxes and clarinet (although guests are brought in on a couple tracks to relieve the deficit), and the band in general became more vocal oriented. The music here applies more of the typical RIO excesses (especially the abrasive harmonies) and more experimentation, yet they are still extremely tight and cohesive. Violinist Marie Schwab contributes more in the vocal department this time, the result often reminding of Thinking Plague mixed with the almost-punk urgency of David Byrne. It's an excellent album throughout, but it's clear that the band traded some of their eccentric charm for more avant-garde weirdness. In all, though, this double-CD set is one that many will enjoy, recommended especially for fans of the aforementioned bands, and in general the adventurous listener.
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more