Besombes, Philippe/Jean-Louis Rizet - Pole
It's really great to see this French electronic/rock classic reissued, especially as the vinyl pressing was quite poor. This double album is a collaboration between these two electronic musicians working with a huge array of keyboards and the latest technology. It includes a large number of guest musicans (who are not credited in the booklet, unfortunately) and the electronics and rock band instruments combined lead to certain comparisons with Heldon, although the actual music is quite different than Heldon.
"Highlighting a huge variety of electronic keyboards, the album’s seven tracks (ranging in time for three to well over twenty minutes) create a variety of moods and declarations. Ethereal choruses waft and float through the pulsing synths while drums weave the unusual sounds together. Full of electronic and electro-acoustic ideas and a variety of disparate moods (from the dark and beautiful Armature double to the off-handed faux blues of Rock á Montauban)... Fans of ‘70s synthesizers, Krautrock and the French scene will find much here to love. Completely and carefully remastered from the master tapes for incredible sound, the 76-minute release is a MUST for lovers German and French avant-rock of this era."
"The Paris based Pole label was one of a certain uncompromising music aesthetic, similar to the Cosmic Courier folks in Germany and, more recently, Acme Records in England. Having access to an army of the latest keyboard toys and old stand-bys (mellotron, VCS 3, ARP 2600, Hammond, etc..) , Philippe Besombes and Jean-Louis Rizet created a double LP opus, that in reflection, is one of the true pioneering albums in the entire electronic music field – and certainly the most advanced work of its kind released in France for the day (1975). The Achilles Heel of the Pole label, and even worse its successor Tapioca, was the abominable pressing quality of the original vinyl. So not until the digital age, with aggressive and uncompromising Israeli label Mio leading the charge, do we finally have a chance to hear this album the way it was intended. “Pole” is a difficult album to review, as it doesn’t have a “typical sound” per se, but rather a smorgasbord of concepts that can be heard in snippets of other 1970s era electronic albums. Opener ‘Haute Pression’ and closer ‘Synthi Soit-il’ can be best categorized as electronic rock. The former featuring a heavy dose of sequencing, paced by real drums, that recalls later works such as Klaus Schulze’s “Moondawn” (1976) or Wolfgang Bock’s “Cycles” (1980). The closing track is similar, but extended (22 minutes) with more room for keyboard soloing (close to noodling), with extensive phasing of the percussion, similar to something Dieter Dirks might do. It’s this factor that closes the loop on the Cosmic Jokers / Galactic Supermarket comparisons. No 1970’s French electronic album can avoid a Heldon comparison, and “Pole” is no exception. The dark sequencing that is normally associated with Richard Pinhas and crew, can be found on tracks like ‘Montelimar’ and ‘Lundi Matin’. But instead of searing fuzz guitar, ‘Montelimar’ features trumpet while ‘Lundi Matin’ has some wonderful electric saxophone. ‘Armature Double’ has to rank as the most unique composition on the album. No describing this one with easy comparisons. A very somber 18 minute piece with mellotron, voices, electric piano, and sundry 1970s era synthesizers that really creates a melancholy mood. That is, with the exception of short bursts of loud fuzz bass and industrial sounding noises – which are quite dramatic in this context. For me the best is track 2, ‘Evelyse’, which is one of the finest underground pieces of music I’ve ever heard. With echoing flute and “locust at night” synthesizers, it’s a melding of Tangerine Dream’s “Alpha Centauri” with Ash Ra Tempel’s ‘Jenseits’ from the “Join Inn” album. The track reaches a crescendo that will send a chill up one’s spine. It’s outright begging to be the soundtrack for an art film. A phenomenal piece. Overall, “Pole” is a very difficult album to comprehend in one or two listens. This will take many spins to truly comprehend, just due to the exploratory nature of the music within."-Tom Hayes/Gnosis