Jean Yves Labat; Underwater Electronic OrchestraCreel Pone
CP 199.1 CD
One of the, in retrospect, better constructs of the Creel Pone cabal is that, despite many beliefs to the contrary, it is in fact a committee of semi-like-minded souls, all interested in portraying some aspect of the "Unheralded Electronic Music" canon. Case in point; while I personally wouldn't have included this particular collection of gossamer isolation-tank filigree & majority psychedelic-disco, it was strongly nominated by a number of the Cognoscenti along the way - partly due to its scarcity, but also in its dutiful break away from genre tropes into something a bit more unique. It's easy to see its place in the canon amongst Bernard Bonnier, Jean-Pierre Massierra, "Iatrogenics" and the like; a strange record by any standard, boasting one of the all-time great record titles & covers, depicting a Venusian wave cresting behind our Synth-bespectacled heroine.
Starting; and ending - oddly, exactly the same take in both places, with what sounds like an accidental fader-slip at the very end; classy - with the absolutely ecstatic rush of "Matrix 16", the record starts on an auspicious note, with a particularly grand arrangement of backwards drums, flitting synths and solo lines befitting the best of Moroder's classic-era productions. "U Boat", after a short, promising intro of minimal synth chug, feels like stock disco-by-numbers; cascading envelope-follower guitar scratch & Gamble / Huff strings, dotted by the same Moog growls featured on Stevie Wonder's run of Cecil / Margouleff-abetted studio dates. Drawing closer to Bonnier still is Labat's reading of "Casse-tête" staple "Little Drummer Boy," albeit nowhere near as prescient, with a fairly straight run-through of slinky, mid-tempo drums, phasing synths, and jungle noises. "Orbit" again veers towards the highs of Moroder's late-70s anthemic film-score work, with some nice arpeggiations & fuzz-guitar burn cut in an almost entirely drum-free arrangement. Finally, "Subtronick" closes out the side with a gorgeous wash of string-synth haze, addressing the record's subaquatic connotations directly.
Not much to report on the B-side's one-two intro of "singles;" "Le Voyeur" returns with the TSOP leanings & a creepy, animalistic vocal that reminds of both Dr. John & a slow-burn take on Jean "Hoyoux" Le Fennec's excellent 60s outsider chansonnerie. "Cash" is essentially an Ohio Players riff, all slap-bass & guitar with similarly aligned stream-of-consciousness vocals. Things start to look a bit brighter with "The Flight of Kromack III", an extended wash of jungle-pulse drums fed through synth-gates & filtering, with stray vocals yowl all but buried under a mire of gurning oscillator murk - one of the album's real highlights, with echoes of Philippe Doray's excellent "Ramasse-Miettes Nucléaires."
Reproducing the covetable Canadian-only Barclay edition - this was also available on a 1978 French CBS pressing under the title "Transition 1", with a modified track-order, only one "Matrix 16", and a edited-down version of "Kromack" & no "Little Drummer Boy" or "Orbit" but adding the terrible track "U.S.A" & the title cut - in a particularly nice gem-encrusted pearlized stock, this is one perhaps for the followers of the more populist end of things, but is by no means without its many merits.