Saturday, 23 January 2010

Catharsis -Masq (1971) @256

Review from

Catharsis is one of those French pioneering groups that forged ahead and paved the way for many of their compatriots. Their first album was recorded early spring 1971. The band was at the peak of their productivity at the time, the sessions apparently produced a lot more material put on tape than just this album (which surfaced in later releases).

The sound is a mixture of easily accessible tunes, strange wordless chanting, high hippie spirits, Arabian elements, strong percussion and a few avant-garde excursions. It has a very spontaneous feeling, as if the group was assembled for some kind of occult ritual using music to reach a higher consciousness.

Four long tracks on this debut album from a group that has their own distinctive sound, even though they were obviously Pink Floyd and Amon Düül II inspired, but with some more symphonic touches. Indeed outside the strange ethereal female vocals, courtesy from Charlotte, the group was a septet. Through a percussive and gradual start, the track develops into an interesting psych rock, over which Charlotte's vocals (sometimes joined by the others) are soaring, then bizarre effects and percussion derail the progression of the title track and render its outcome unpredictable. We are going thru a few Bolero (Ravel) measures, than joined scats vocals, then an uncertain landing. Rising from that shaky ground and with baffling percussions and effects, 4 Art 6 develops slowly, remaining a bit irritatingly on low dynamics that when they finally come to acceptable level, there are some very weird (even a bit objectionable) vocals. Starting the flipside, Cantique is not about to change that with Charlotte's scats taking on a mystical or liturgical note and if the male pagan chants coming just after, then superposed to Charlotte's. Tunnel Exatique doesn't drop the ball either.

Masq is certainly a charming album that does bear the era that saw it born, a rather enjoyable piece of symphonic psychedelia, but repeated listening could prove somewhat difficult if one is not entirely comfortable with female aerial scats.

Line-up :
- Roland Bocquet / organ, piano, glock, vocal
- Niles Brown / guitar, violin, clochettes, vocal
- Charlotte / vocal, violin, crecelle, clochettes, grelots
- Yves de Roubaix / guitar, vocal, crecelle
- Charles Eddie / percussion, tarabocca
- Allain Geoffroy / charango, piano, moulinette, vocal
- Patrick Moulia / guitar, tambourin, scie, guimbarde, crecelle, harmonica, vocal

Track List :
01. Masq - 6:16
02. 4 Art 6 - 8:43
03. Cantique - 6:58
04. Tunnel Exatique Part 1 - 7:18
05. Tunnel Exatique Part 2 - 2:41



Anonymous said...

Actually, they sound like a mix of progressive and easy listening elements. Like these weird movie soundtracks the Italians did in the late 60's / early 70's. It could be the score of some Mondo erotico bizarros film, with 4 Art 6 played during the black mass sequence...