From France, land of the avant-garde, comes a simultaneously compelling and annoying new release. Etron Fou LelLoublan’s “Le Poumons Gonfles” can be a very interesting release, depending on your point of view and your ability to digest RIO influenced bands.
The band consists of Jo Thirion on Farfisa organ, piano, trumpet, and backing vocals; Bernard Mathieu on soprano & tenor saxes; Guigou Chenevier on drums, tenor sax, singing; Ferdinand Richard on bass guitar, singing; Fred Frith on violin, guitar on “Christine & Pas'l'Sou”. Fred Frith’s involvement with the band on this release should give them some prestige in the avant-garde world. This is a re-release of the band’s third album, which first appeared in the early eighties.
The songs are very short ranging from a few minutes to the occasional five minutes. The mix is sparse, as few overdubs allows for a clarity not found in the CD’s production.
I can not comment on individual tracks as I do not like this form of music. In an attempt to understand the merits, I listened to this release over and over again. It seemed contradictory, as the band had a good understanding of melody, rhythm and structure, yet seemed no more interested in incorporating those elements than in relinquishing it’s playful, yet unstructured approach. My biggest criticism is that the songs are too short. It seems that the band is slowly forming something interesting in each song, then ends each piece abruptly without giving the listening the satisfaction of digesting what the band is creating.
Richard and Chenevier‘s vocals are grating and make the music even more difficult to digest. If you like dissonance, than here it is in heaps and piles.
Etron Fou Leloublan is not a bad band. In fact they are heavily recommended and celebrated in RIO circles. But as a very staunch RIO band, they are just not for everyone. Their highly esoteric approach is commendably uncompromising. But, musically speaking, there is little here to digest if your looking for structured progressive rock.