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Album Review

Batelages is Etron Fou Leloublan's first LP, recorded in late 1976 for the French label Gratte-Ciel. It has all the flaws of a first album: meager sound quality, overlong songs, a group identity still in its infancy. Despite all that, it remains an interesting record for two main reasons. First, it is the only Etron Fou featuring original singer/saxophonist Chris Chanet (aka Eulalie Ruynat). Second, what this group was playing was completely nuts. Ferdinand Richard's bass work had already reached a virtuosic level, enough for him to lead in two cuts. Guigou Chenevier's mad drumming, neurotic, depressive-compulsive — a cross between Magma's Christian Vander and free improv's original madman, Han Bennink — challenged recording engineer Thierry Magal, who poorly captured his dynamics (with the exception of the drums solo "Sololo Brigida," crisp). The album opens with the 18-minute epic "L'Amulette et le Petit Rabbin," half complex avant-prog à la Henry Cow, half Zappa-esque comedy routine. The lewd adventures of the "short rabbi" have badly aged, but the provocative spirit of the song still brings a smile. Chanet/Ruynat sings lead. Following the drums solo is a very short ditty ("Yvett' Blouse"), the instrumental "Madame Richard/Larika," and "Histoire de Graine," another crazy epic, this one sung by Richard and featuring loud sax howls and forced melodies to match the uneven rhythmic motifs. This group would record much stronger material down the years, but this first effort holds historical significance for those interested in the formative years of the Rock in Opposition movement. ~ François Couture, Rovi


Formed: 1974

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s

French art-rock unit Etron Fou Leloublan -- roughly translated, "Mad Sh*t, the White Wolf" -- was formed in 1974 by vocalist Eulalie Ruynat, bassist/vocalist Ferdinand Richard, saxophonist Chris Chanet, and drummer Guigou Chenevier. A product of the Rock in Opposition coalition -- a loose collective of British and Western European artists, spearheaded by Henry Cow, that openly challenged the commercial, creative, and sociopolitical aims of mass-market popular music -- Etron Fou Leloublan boasted...
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Batelages, Etron Fou Leloublan
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