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Les poumons gonflés

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Album Review

Etron Fou Leloublan's third studio album came out four years after its second, but the group had released the live En Public aux États-Unis d'Amérique in the interim. The trio lineup from that live album (drummer Guigou Chenevier, bassist Ferdinand Richard, and saxophonist Bernard Mathieu) is here expanded to a quartet with the arrival of Jo Thirion on Farfisa organ, piano, and trumpet. The music has also changed considerably. Gone are the long, multi-part epics and the free-form improvisations; now the songs are tighter and shorter (between two and seven minutes). The album is overall more accessible, but only because the previous two were so off the wall. But while previous studio efforts were indescribable manifestations from unique creators, Les Poumons Gonflés falls more easily into the early-'80s current of avant-garde rock. Parallels can be traced back to Samla Mammas Manna, the Art Bears, the Muffins, Quebec's Wondeur Brass and André Duchesne, and most of all Fred Frith, who produced the album and performed on two songs (Etron Fou had played backup band duties for half of the ex-Henry Cow member's solo LP Speechless a few months earlier). Despite the presence of a fourth member in Thirion, the songs sound colder and fleshed out, but they gain in focus without losing their wacky lyrics (still no English translations in the CD reissue; too bad). Highlights include the story of "Christine," who left her newborn child on the train (if you think that sounds dramatic you should guess again), the angular "Nicole," and Chenevier's instrumental piece "Upsalla," a tribute to Samla Mammas Manna (based in Upsalla, Sweden). Especially for non-French speaking listeners who can't grasp the Dadaist stories central to the LPs Batelages and Les Trois Fous Perdégagnent, Les Poumons Gonflés is the best point of entry in Etron Fou's discography. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Biography

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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Les poumons gonflés, Etron Fou Leloublan
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