Volapuk - Polyglöt - 2000


Some months ago, I presented you, when reviewing their live album "Pukapok", this wonderful French RIO group called Volapük. In that review I already commented you that the group had just published a new studio album (their fourth), "Polyglöt", and that I was eager to caress it in my arms… At the end justice exists, and there it is the review of this new great album.


The music of Volapük, as we already mentioned in the review of "Pukapòk", moves in the path of the best rock in opposition, from the classics (Etron Fou Leloublan, Univers Zero, Art Zoyd, Henry Cow or Art Bears), adding drops of free jazz, improvisation, chamber music, degenerate eastern folk, circus music, and creativity without limit.

The album, with a quite ugly presentation to say the truth, and released by the American label Cuneiform, presents 13 basically instrumental pieces, of a length between 3 and 5 minutes, only two of those which were already included in the live album.

As I already advanced in the previous review, for this album, Volapük has had the incorporation of a new component, Takumi Fukushima, former violinist of the Japanese group After Dinner, as a guest star added to the basic trio that forms the group: Guigou Chenevier -drums, voice, clavichord, marimba, sanza-, Michel Mandel -clarinet, taragot - and Guillaume Saurel -cello, flute -.

Finally, a wonderful and unexpected surprise, the other invited guest of the album, the master Lars Hollmer (Samla Mammas Manna), that creates one of the best topics in the album, "Voila Puk", recording for it his accordion, harmonium, melodic and machines.

In my view Takumi adds a new and exciting sonority to the already suggestive sound of the group. The violin, played in a very contemporary classical style, has a preponderant role in many of the songs of the album, and its conjunction with the cello and the clarinet allows us to enjoy new and interesting nuances.

Also, it is interesting to observe the recourse to other instruments not previously present in the music framework of Volapuk like the taragot and the sanza, eastern instruments that contribute a very interesting ethnic and acoustic touch to the group. In fact, many pieces of the album ("Nusrat", “Sanza", "Marimba") could be considered more as progressive folk than as RIO with folk influences.

In general, it is a calm album, acoustic, folkie, without excessive recourse to noise or disharmony, that dazzles for the variety of its sound, the clean fluency of the execution and composition, the excellent understanding between the musicians, the amazing melodies and changing and intricate rhythms, but mainly, for the sensation of pure beauty and sentiment that the whole record perspires.

The most prominent pieces, in my opinion, are "Vieux future" that opens the album in an impressive way as contemporary RIO, "Sanza", a short composition, simple in its instrumentation, and clearly influenced by Eastern European folk, "Entre 2 Zoo", like a soundscore of a suspense movie, the innovative "Technova" that adds small doses of electronic and rhythmic madness to the acoustic sound of the group, the impressive "Marimba", based on this instrument to which suave classic touches are added, the already known "Valse chinoise", as wonderful here as in the live version, and the austere and sweet "Medication & youghourt" with Japanese influences.


On the whole, it is worth highlighting again the excellency of this group that in their new album reinvent their sound adding new shades and instruments to their fresh and free music. One of my ten favorite albums of 2000, without a doubt, and for me, the best and more innovative RIO groups of the moment.

author - date - rating - label

José Nafría - January 2001 -   - Cuneiform Records