Various Artists — Puissance 13+2
(Musea FGBG 4087.AR, 1971/1993, CD)
by Peter Thelen, 1994-02-01:
This exceptional live set was taken from a series of live performances at Le Parc du Chateau d'Herouville. Again, it must be remembered that this album is a cross-section of French rock at the time, and features progressive, as well as blues-rock, psychedelic, and folk-rock styles. Don't let that make you hesitate, though - this album is great from beginning to end, all 75 minutes of it. There are some bands featured here that you will hear nowhere else, and for other artists such as Catharsis, Catherine Ribeiro and Alpes, and Alain Markusfeld, this makes a great introduction. Ergo Sum kicks it off with a spirited version of "All's So Comic," then Magma takes over with a very early version (maybe the earliest...) of "Mekanik Kommandoh." An outstanding track by Spectre (this is their only recording!) is followed by two folk based tracks by Mor - an early band which featured Dan Ar Bras and two other guitarists. Then we move into a three track blues set with Zabu and Solitude before coming back to more progressive turf with Steve Warring (an American artist), Voyage, Design, and Contrepoint. The album then moves into near psychedelic territory with contributions by Catherine Ribeiro, Claude Engel, and Catharsis. Then a track by another American artist, Roger Masson, with the closing track offered by the Alain Markusfeld group, featuring Geza Fenzl and Joel Dugrenot. Although a few of the better known early French bands are not featured here (Triangle, Alice,etc), this is as good an introduction as any to that scene.
by Henry Schneider, 1993-12-31:
Puissance 13 + 2 presented an assortment of French bands on this interesting and varied compilation. The first song is Ergo Sum’s "All’s So Comic" that is the same track as on their Mexico release. This is a live recording jam packed full of Magma and Zao influenced French progressive jazz and fortunately minimal vocals. It is easily one of the best tracks on both discs. Next in line is Magma’s excellent example of zeuhl music: "Mekanik Kommando." The mood then shifts to a Lovecraftian synth rock anthem by Spectre called "Arkham." This song strongly reminded me of an obscure track "Xmas Hills" by an equally obscure Australian band Cybotron. Shifting musical gears again, we now hear two acoustic folk ballads by MOR. MOR was probably the French equivalent of Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Still in the acoustic mode the next song is Zabu’s unaccompanied "Informer Blues." This acoustic version sounds as if it was recorded on a porch in the Deep South. It captures the grit of Robert Johnson and Lightning Hopkins. Picking up the tempo now is Solitude with two blues rock numbers, "Been Gone So Long" and "Jappy’s Boogie." "Been Gone So Long" is straight ahead blues rock like the early output of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Johnny Winter, etc. In fact it reminded me of Jimi Hendrix’ "Red House" without the guitar pyrotechnics. "Jappy’s Boogie" is a boogie woogie tune that reminded me of Nicky Hopkins’ early seventies output. Again the mood changes and we hear an expatriated American Steve Warring playing a Blue Grass rendition of "Bill Bailey" sung in French! Now things become interesting for the prog fan! The next two songs by Voyage and Design are excellent French examples of Krautrock. On the heels of Design is Contrepoint’s Canterbury jazz of "Unfathomable of the Seventh Time." Things start to get a little strange with Catherine Ribeiro and Alpes with "Aria Populaire." "Aria Populaire" has the feel of a 60s protest song but there are only Catherine’s wordless vocals. Again we are treated to some excellent acoustic guitar work in the form of Claude Engel’s "Promenade." Engel’s folky style is akin to John Fahey and Leo Kottke. Moving back towards the experimental we hear the dreamy acoustic sound of Catharsis and their outstanding contribution "Charles." "Charles" is a cosmic raga with wordless vocals, Farfisa organ, acoustic guitar, and Arabian rhythms. At various times I thought of Pink Floyd, Renaissance, and Yatha Sidhra. Another abrupt shift in mood is the other American’s (Roger Mason) contribution. Musea lists him as a Cajun performer yet "On a tapé" is some exceptional banjo picking country blues. Closing out the disc is Alain Markusfeld with "Iguana." If you are familiar with Alain’s solo work you would not recognize his playing. Absent are his intricate guitar riffs. Instead "Iguana" is more like Bill Nelson’s early guitar experiments. Puissance 13 + 2 is such a cornucopia of music styles that it may have something for everyone but you may have to wade through a lot of music you don’t want. To me the best tracks are by Magma, Catharsis, Voyage, and Design and are worth the price of the CD.
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more