MIO
Philippe Besombes was a Ph.D. student with an abiding interest incontemporary electro-acoustic music, an interest that led him tocollaborate and play with Jean Michel Jarre, Jean-Francois Dessoliers(as PJF) and Jean-Louis Rizet (as Pole). Both Besombes' and Pole'snotoriety have been sealed by their inclusion on Steven Stapleton andJohn Fothergill's famous Nurse With Wound Influence List, whichappeared in the liner notes for NWW's debut album. Israel's MIO recordshas been doing quite a good job in issuing rarities from the NWW listlately, and this CD is no exception. Comprising the entire original1974 LibraLP on Tapioca (composed as the soundtrack to the film of the samename), MIO also generously adds four tracks from the same general timeperiod, filling out the running time of the disc to 76 minutes.Besombes' unorthodox work nervously straddles two strikingly differentdimensions - avant-garde electronic composition and the contemporaryEuropean prog and psych-rock prevalent at the time. Besombes negotiatesthis dichotomy rather brilliantly, producing a spectacularly uniquealbum that pulls in influences seemingly from everything the artistever heard in his lifetime. The paltry three samples below simply can'treflect the true variety of approaches on the album, from the jarringmetallic drones and disturbingly strangled vocals of "La Plage" to thecosmic Indian twang of "Raggacountry" to the languid fuzz guitar loungeof "Ballade en Velo." Besombes employs various synthesizers, Moogs,electric sitars, oscillators and a studio full of rock session playersto achieve the stunning dynamics of the album. "Boogimmick" is asynth-drenched heavy blues stomp in the style of Hawkwind, but alsoseeming simultaneously to function as an absurdist parody of suchmusic. "Hache 6" stands out, a heavily phased funk excursion,reminiscent of the kind of eclectic library music uncovered by LukeVibert and Barry 7 on their Lo Recordings compilations. Before thealbum is over, I'm treated to an atonal free-jazz meltdown ("LaVille"), a science-fiction fanfare of mind-altering proportions ("LesCosmonautes") and a lovely psych ballad ("Tis a Song"). Bonus tracksrange from a funky breakbeat jazz number with female vocals to anamazingly textured, 20-plus minute piece for prepared piano. Libra is a fantastic album, in that rare category of storied, obscure albums that actually deserve their reputation.

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