Exposé Online banner

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

Emile à la Campagne Cover artEmile au Jardin Patrologique Cover artBattre Campagne Cover art

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.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 6, 1994 releases, 1984 recordings, 1981 releases

Related artist(s): Cédric Vuille, Débile Menthol, Gilles Rieder (Manœuvres d'Automne)

Latest news

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more

2019-01-02
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more

2018-12-23
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Pink Floyd - Total Eclipse – Sometime last year Pink Floyd released some sort of 25th anniversary collectors box set, the title eludes me at the moment, but the content does not: it was simply a bunch of their regular albums...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues