Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Aksak Maboul - Onze Danses Pour Combattre La Migraine

Though usually lumped in with the RIO scene of the late 70s, Aksak Maboul stand out as one of the more indefinable recording artists of the era. A Belgian duo that released two albums, "Onze Danses Pour Combattre La Migraine" is their home-grown debut from 1977.
For those unfamiliar with RIO (Rock In Opposition), it was a small group of European avant-prog bands that played several festivals together, organized by members of Henry Cow. The basic function of RIO was to act as a DIY organization involving underground artists acting entirely outside the grip of the mainstream music industry. My favorite bands from this "scene" are Univers Zero, Art Zoyd and Aksak Maboul.
The bands forming what is known as RIO do not really have a ton in common musically. It could be said that they all have an interest in mixing together a very wide range of musical influences, though what these influences are and how they are mixed together tends to vary incredibly from band to band. However, the very nature of what I can imagine to be a typical RIO band, is to be completely original, iconoclastic and indefinable. Perhaps all that these bands have in common is that they are all so individualistic that they have very little in common.
"Onze Danses Pour Combattre La Migraine" is a full length LP loaded with 17 tracks. Most of the tracks are odd instrumental chamber rock miniatures featuring all manner of instrumentations, including primitive electronics, a drum machine, saxophones, clarinets, farfisa organ, piano, voice, plenty of percussion and much more. One of the most unique aspects of this album is the handful of songs that feature the drum machine. The sound is not far from the electronic shuffle of an early Kraftwerk experiment, or perhaps a jazzier take on the pulses of the first Harmonia record. These songs, along with the enchanting electro-tease of the opening track, make this album some kind of proto-techo discovery. The rest of the album is a steady stream of overlaping ideas and brilliant composition. It evokes everything from French lullaby, childhood dreams, futurist fantasy, Middle Eastern folk musics, surrealist Jazz, Eric Satie, Olivier Messiaen, Duke Ellington, angular fusion, Indian Classical, European folk musics, a touch of island madness and has the thin arms of European prog rock just barely holding the whole thing together. It really is impossible to describe this album accurately and I'm sure it will sound completely different to each set of ears that hear it.
Unfortunately this album is rather hard to come by, but there is a nice official CD reissue put out by Crammed Discs. I was able to obtain one from the kind folks at Wayside Music.

Onze Danses Pour Combattre La Migraine
password: sakalli

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