Richard Pinhas - mellotron, 1954 Gibson Les Paul guitar, synths (track 1,2,3 & 5)|
- Perspective I (Ou Comment Procede Le Nihilisme Actif) [10:26]
- Perspective II [3:13]
- Perspective III (Baader-Meinhof Blues) [10:48]
- Bassong [2:59]
- Perspective IV [21:45]
Michel Ettori - guitars and composition (track 4)
Alain Bellaiche - bass (track 5)
Gérard Prevost - bass (track 4)
Patrick Gauthier - minimoog (track 5)
Philibert Rossi - mellotron (track 1)
Coco Roussel - drums, percussion (track 2 & 5)
The fourth Heldon album distinguishes itself by having a bit of structure to it, certainly compared to the previous three albums which just had a bunch of miscellaneous tracks thrown together.
The first Perspective is a slow, dark introduction which sets up a cold and somewhat sinister atmosphere. That atmosphere continues in much beefed-up form in the fast third Perspective aided by a low pumping sequencer and wild avant-garde guitar-playing by Richard Pinhas.
Inbetween some ice-cold relief is provided by the intricate second Perspective which has various high-pitched sequenced sounds constantly moving in and out of phase relative to each other - it is accompanied by some nice percussion from Coco Roussel.
The charming little 'Bassong' by Michel Ettori probably serves the same relief-function before the last piece takes off - the fourth Perspective is a sort of re-run of Perspectives II & III but now with more Coco Roussel percussion and some excellent Mini-Moog playing by Patrick Gauthier.
The ever-faster sequencers build up a hypnotic crescendo before it all suddenly comes to an end.
The album-title refers to Richard Pinhas' long-time partner but why remains unclear, because the cold and slightly neurotic music presented here can't possibly be meant as a tribute to a loved one. The strange album-cover and 'Perspective III' subtitle-reference to seventies German terrorist group Baader-Meinhof also suggest otherwise.
But anyway, it's the music that counts here and if you like your music tough and uncompromising, this is the right sort of stuff.
1999. Ivar de Vries
Heldon's fourth album, subtitled Agneta Nilsson, was originally released in 1976 and was the first Heldon recording to fully capture the band's style. All three previous releases were either hints at where the band would go or investigations of the music that influenced the band. None until Agneta Nilsson were solidly and clearly Heldon. And yet, as perhaps all their works do, this CD contains many references to the types of music the band had created up till this point and to the music from which Heldon was drawn.
Superbly crafted to take you on a journey through Heldon-land, Agneta Nilsson begins with Perspective I, a slow, dark, spacey synthesizer soundscape somewhat reminiscent of other 70s analog composers--an extremely slow J.M. Jarre piece, perhaps--but has all the classic hallmarks of Heldon's mature sound.
Next up, Perspective II is a rather abstract piece which builds its base on shimmering, quivering sequencer warbles overtop of which are sprinkled distant gongs, cymbals and various percussive sounds. There are songs on Heldon I and III that foreshadow this piece but none of them are as congealed in compositional intent or execution.
"Perspective III (Baader-Meinhof Blues)" is a classic Heldon electronic assault, as one might guess from the title, referring as it does to the terrorist-organization-of-the-decade.
It marries a fast paced Tangerine Dream-ish bass synthesizer sequence with synthesizer effects and a truly blistering distorted guitar improvisational solo. But the Dream was never this knife-edged and Froese was never this wicked on the guitar.
After Perspective III we get a well-deserved rest and a complete change-up. Bassong, the only song on this CD not to have been written by Richard Pinhas, harkens back to Heldon's second release, Allez Teia but it also heads off into new territory.
The underpinning of this song is a gentle guitar arpeggio but it is the bass guitar which takes the lead and harmony lines. Bass as a lead instrument was very new in the 1970s, coming from the jazz fusion world that had percolated up to the surface by the time this album was recorded. The effect is not un-Heldon like but it does sound a lot like other works of the time by artists such as Phil Manzenera (reference his Quiet Sun, Mainstream album).
Perspective IV finishes the CD. It's a huge piece that begins as a lush exercise in Frippesque guitar work and then morphs into a recap of Perspective II before transforming again into an extended drums/bass/guitar jam with King Crimson overtones and pitch-bending minimoog melodies. Quite strangely--because it works so well--this piece ends with another transformation; a bass sequencer line sneaks in and takes over, sounding at first very much like Tangerine Dream. In retrospect, however, this bass line has more in common with the repetitive bass lines used in Philip Glass's compositions of this same time. Overtop this bass is a percussion improve tour-du-force complete with freaky effects and a startling cliff ending.
For fans of progressive rock and electronic music, this CD offers a varied and satisfying blend of moods and styles, while at the same time congealing into a logical and rewarding whole. Heldon hit their stride with this album and I find it well worth a listen.
2002. TORZO / MEXICO
In my recurring daydream, I am invited onto Oprah for having performed some wildly philanthropic, selfless act. While on the show, she brings up my love of music (Oprah always does her research!), and I teasingly suggest in return that perhaps she should form a CD club to augment her thriving book club. She says that this might not be such a bad idea, and asks if I could make an inaugural entry to get such a club underway. "Why, yes, Oprah, how about this?" I reply, pulling out for all to see nationwide the album cover of Agneta Nilsson. As Oprah spits out her coffee and the audience members recoil in dread, I shrug my shoulders: "Or we could just get a Dave Matthews album, I guess."
In 1976, Richard Pinhas assembled his experimental entity for the fourth time. This album represents the crossroads of the Heldon banner, with a healthy mix of both the ambient pieces that had defined the project up to that point and the edge into the territory of rock assaults con rhythm section that would increasingly define it until its final album, Stand By.
"Perspective I", while suspended at over 10 minutes and moving at a glacial pace that might not be to everyone's tastes, represents one of the finest tracks that Pinhas created, ambient or otherwise. For me, the track's most celebrated feature is the low snarl of analog rumble, almost sounding like a covert battalion of Atari 2600 Combat tanks snaking their way along an alien landscape, shifting gears uneasily against two melodic themes (G#-B-E-C# and G#-E-F#-B). This is one of those rare tracks that manages to sound so steely cold, yet so utterly warm at the same time.
"Perspective II" reaches further back to the earliest Heldon days. It is a sparse, squiggling A minor theme played on synthesizer, manipulated unto notes blurring and bouncing off each other like sub-atomic particles while soft, Zen percussion rings in the background.
The interlude "Bassong", is rare for a Heldon track-it does not actually have Pinhas on it. Composed by Michel Ettori (Weidorje's guitarist) and accompanied by bassist Gerard Prevost (Zao), this one provides some relief from the oppression of the rest of the album, with a calming touch that somewhat calls to mind a meditative piece by John McLaughlin and Mahavishnu.
For the rock tracks, the "Baader-Meinhof Blues" presents the more familiar Heldon sound, namely the combination of gobs of choppy, Tangerine Dream sequencing with Pinhas' searing Fripp-influenced fretwork.
"Perspective IV" begins with a reprise of "II", then blossoms into a jam much like the kind that would show up all throughout later albums (particularly Stand By).
A terrific album. I think it's one of Pinhas' most consistent in quality, while presenting perhaps the greatest variety of pieces. Plus, if nothing else, it would really freak Oprah out.
2005. Joe McGlinchey