Klimperei - Alice au pays des merveilles - 2000
Klimperei is a French group (coming from Lyon) with a long career, of which I had not listened anything before, and the truth is that they have sparked a very, very pleasing surprise. The group is formed by the couple Françoise and Christophe Petchanatz, and was formed in 1985. From then on they have published a long number of K7, LPs and CDs until arriving to this their last album, "Alice in Wonderland".
Surprisingly, although this is not at all progressive rock (and I don't find any reference of classic groups to which I can relate their music), this is a conceptual album that reflects in its 41 small miniatures the dreamy, surrealist and infantile world, albeit but with certain anguish, of Lewis Carroll's small Alice. It is interesting to notice that in interviews the group manifests its predilection for guitarists like Steve Hillage, Robert Fripp or Mike Oldfield, and groups like Gentle Giant or ELP. Nevertheless, don't try to look in this album for any resemblance with the music of these soloists and groups, as you won't find it.
The group tried to stick in this disk to the structure of Lewis Carroll's book, to its history and theme, following the order of the events of the book faithfully and trying to transform them in music, with instruments selected at random in each piece, and multiple repetitions of the main motif of the disk in varied and curious instrumentation's.
The music of Klimperei in this great album oscillates between the minimalism of Pascal Comelade (clearly the closest relation to the sound of Klimperei, although the group was formed at the same time that the career of Pascal began and we cannot speak of copy at all), the more classic instrumentation of Tom Waits, Yann Tiersen's chanson avant-garde folk, the repetitive classic vanguard of Satie, Saint-Saens, Nyman or the Penguin Cafe Orchestra played in the mental filter of a small boy, the more cheerful and crazy RIO of Stormy Six, Etron Fou Leloublan, Samla Mammas Manna or Volapuk, the madder Robert Wyatt, and even the calmed moments in the last David Tibet of Current 93 (those soft outbursts of piano). If you love Pascal Comelade's more infantile albums, I am sure that you will fall in love with Klimperei.
The group includes in its palette of sounds a classic instrument as the piano (by the way, the name of the group means in German banging on a piano") that forms the sound base of most of the album. To the sweet sound of the piano, guitars are added, as well as out of tune piano's, accordions, any of toys and utensils that can make noise, bells and other percussion, xylophones, trumpets, flutes, drums, in a clear example of fairtown music, suburb orchestra, musicians in the streets of Paris.
This recording is chamber toy music, infantile, simple in its beauty, minimal, moonstruck, usually calm, hot and flowing, cheerful but with a bottom of melancholy and cynicism. The album is basically instrumental although strange vocal fragments are included along this long suite of about sixty minutes, in which all the pieces flow continuously, cohesioned by repetitions of the main sound pattern. It is ideal to listen to in a calm night with your eyes closed.
It is also worth highlighting, the beautiful Carrollian titles of many pieces (examples: "The little crocodile", "the cat of Cheshire", "turtle soup", "the garden of the living flowers" ), the wonderful cover, drawn by Alfie (Robert Wyatt's couple) and the artwork designed by Kwettap Ieuw, of the French RIO Toupidek Limonade.
In summary, this is an excellent introduction to the surrealist and infantile world of Klimperei, a French duo (its music could only come from this country) to which from now on I will dedicate lot of attention. Oh, I wish some lovers of Dream Theater grandiloquence or Flower Kings could discover a new world of beauty and sound with this couple of infantile adults.