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18 Feb 2017

Ame Son “Catalyse” 1970 France Prog Psych














Ame Son “Catalyse” 1970  France Prog Psych
full

 Ame son was a late 60's, early 70's french underground band influenced by early Gong as two members were part of Daevid Allen's Bananamoon band. They released this unique album in '70. This is genuine psychedelism, with long jams leaded by a thrilling flute, loads of excellent psychedelic guitar and even some wha wha on electrified flute. The instrumental moments are excellent, whereas the moments featuring (approximate) singing are more painful and reveal a pop and raw side. Fortunately, the "jam" moments predominate. The album suffers from an amateurish sound and poor production, but remains a very good testimony of the early french progressive scene, with the debut's freshness, when psychedelism and progressive were closely melted....by oliverstoned ...............

Ame Son were one of the first progressive/psychedelic bands in France. Most members of the band played with Daevid Allen of Gong after Allen was denied entrance to England due to visa problems, which basically ended Daevid's tour of duty with Soft Machine. When Allen was with them, they were known as Bananamoon, and after Allen's departure to form Gong, they renamed themselves Ame Son.

The music on "Catalyse" is very much like a cross between early Gong and "Jet Propelled" era Soft Machine. The shorthand explanation would be psychedelic improv-jam rock with jazzy overtones provided by the flute of Francois Garrel, while guitarist Bernard Lavielle provides appropriately fuzzed-out bliss. Vocals are rough but in most cases mercifully brief.

The music is rewarding and inventive, but the recording quality distracts somewhat. Recording quality is about what you would expect for an album of this time and place; American and British musicians in the 1960's had trouble getting recording engineers and producers to understand their visions, and the troubles were tenfold for French and other European psych/prog rockers. Spalax's typically lackadaisical CD "remastering" does not help much in this regard either. To give you a point of reference, the production quality is about the same as it is on 13th Floor Elevators albums.

If you can get past the rough recording quality, "Catalyse" is a bit of a jewel in the rough for Gong fans and for anyone who likes psychedelia. Ame Son was important in the history of French rock for being one of the first bands who broke out of the three-minute pop song ghetto, and deserve attention on that basis. Not a masterpiece, but not bad either; it takes a few listens to understand what's going on, but overall it's worth it.......................

 Ame Son's only album is one of the earliest "prog" French record (Sept 69) but really it is still very much a psychedelic thing, but undeniably progressive. This groups had roots in the mid-60's under the name of Les Primitiv's and were playing all over France and had been exposed to early Soft Machine on these last's frequent tours of France, especially on the Riviera. As one of their members got drafted in the army, the group went in lethargy and some members started playing with Daevid Allen's Bananamoon in 68 and 69. Upon the return of the drafted, the group reformed and changed their name to Ame Son with flutist Garrel. Signed to Byg Records, Ame Son's album was recorded in two days in London (French vocals later added in a Paris studio) and has Allen and early Soft Machine written all over it, without appearing like a derivate product either. It was generally well received by the press and the public, and they participated in most major festivals in France and Belgium.
To describe their music to progheads is not that easy, because their particular type of psych rock is often truly improvisational, but if dissonant, it did not go in the free-jazz and is much wiser/pleasant than Crimson's Moonchild (note: they don't sound like them at all). Basically a guitar trio with a signing flutist (but not our Tull Mad Flauter, more like Bloomdido Bad De Grass Malherbe), their sound approaches a Floyd-ish (circa Saucerful or live Ummagumma), a calmer Guru Guru (UFO and Hinten) and early Gong (Continental Circus OST), even if vocally they might have been stronger (but as I warned above, recording vocals in a different studio than the music, probably caused difficulties). But Ame Son managed to remain accessible by never over-stretching their talents or their improvisations. In many ways, Catalyse reminds me of Dashiell Hedayatt's jaw-dropping Obsolete (which is also Gong-related) with their raw hippy dreamy rock. Most of their tracks (none shorter than six minutes) are subdivided into sections of which Coeur Fou and Reborn This Morning are the highlights, but there are some real flaws: Coup De H/Sable Mouvants is not only slightly weaker, but definitely not well recorded. Two bonus tracks from a single are added on the Spalax Cd reissue, and they are fairly well in the spirit of the album (even if shorter), but a good remastering job is more than needed for that single and the full album.

After touring extensively France for two years, the group split up in mid-71, after some recording sessions to reform in 73 with a different line-up and made recordings, which also did not materialize, in a second album. AS's only album is one of those French pearl that qualifies as psych proto-prog and is very much recommended to anyone into Gong, Daevid or early Softs and untamed Floyd. For my part, I find this album stunning and in my French top 20 - Zeuhl notwithstanding......by Sean Trane ..........

 Considered as one of the first trully progressive rock bands in France,AME SON were the brainchild of Marc Blanc and Patrick Fontaine,who both had played with Daevid Allen in Daevid Allen's BannanaMoon during a year period between 1968 and 1969.They decided to form their own band in 1969 in Paris along with Francois Garrel and Bernard Lavialle.AME SON signed with BYG Records,recored the instrumental parts of their first album in London within two days with the final mixing taking place in October 69'.In early 70' ''Catalyse'' sees the light.A CD re-issue on Spalax brough this work out of darkness.
STYLE: Having played next to Daevid Allen,it is rather impossible both Blanc and Fontaine not to be influenced by this significant figure.AME SON blended 60's Psychedelia with a newly established complicated rock sound full of free jamming parts and weird passages to contribute on their own way to what we call today early progressive rock movement.All tracks contain plenty of obscure flute parts,trully psychedelic vocals,somewhat dated and trembling guitars but also stable performance on bass and deep drums all the way.

INFLUENCES/SOUNDS LIKE: GONG are the first band that sticks to your mind and it is more than sure that AME SON have given their albums a lot of spins to inspire themselves...but add also some elements of pre-70's PINK FLOYD in the mixture.

 This is very obscure and experimental music,considering the time of its release.Quite long compositions ranging from 6 to 9 minutes are a daring step for 1970.The flute parts are dominant and, for me, this is certainly the strong point of this album.A very interesting rhythm section makes the album even more challenging.Vocals are at times expressive and intense. A few bizarre melodies,again based heavily on flutes, are very captivating.

MINUS: As I am not a big fan of GONG or early FLOYD,this style of music leaves me a neutral taste.Additionally guitars are very dated,if not the whole album.The parts of the album closer to Psychedelic Pop leave me also cold.Some jamming parts are good,but other one sound totally meaningless to my ears.Vocals are mediocre for most of the album's running time.

WILL APPEAL TO: I would dare to say that ''Catalyse'' would be a moving experience only to those who were part of the 60/70's transession from Psychedelic Pop to Psychedelic Rock.Anyone deep into GONG or Syd Barrett-era PINK FLOYD will also like this one.

CONCLUSION/RATING: I think I will rate this album having in mind how important it was around the time it was released and I will give ''Catalyse'' 3 stars,though my true rating is closer to 2-2.5...''Catalyse'' didn't stand well against the sands of time,but it remains a ground-breaking experience for early 70's.Approach,after listening to some samples.... by apps79 ............

In 1967, Marc Blanc and Patrick Fontaine were introduced to Daevid Allen after his departure from Soft machine. They both played in its Bananamoon band in Spain during summer '68 and in the south of France at the beginning of '69. They formed Ame son in June '69 with François Garrel on flute and Bernard Lavialle on guitar. The "Catalyse" album has been released in 1970. Ame son played in all the greatest festivals like Amougies, Les halles, Biot, Le Bourget and had a lot of success from both the audience and critics. The music was strongly influenced by early Gong with long psychedelic jam- sessions leaded by flute and guitar. They split in June'71 for the first time. They start again with a different formation in 1973 and are still playing together from time to time.

Ame Son's only album is one of the earliest "prog" French record (Sept 69) but really it is still very much a psychedelic thing, but undeniably progressive. This groups had roots in the mid-60's under the name of Les Primitiv's and were playing all over France and had been exposed to early Soft Machine on these last's frequent tours of France, especially on the Riviera. As one of their members got drafted in the army, the group went in lethargy and some members started playing with Daevid Allen's Bananamoon in 68 and 69. Upon the return of the drafted, the group reformed and changed their name to Ame Son with flutist Garrel. Signed to Byg Records, Ame Son's album was recorded in two days in London (French vocals later added in a Paris studio) and has Allen and early Soft Machine written all over it, without appearing like a derivate product either. It was generally well received by the press and the public, and they participated in most major festivals in France and Belgium.
To describe their music to progheads is not that easy, because their particular type of psych rock is often truly improvisational, but if dissonant, it did not go in the free-jazz and is much wiser/pleasant than Crimson's Moonchild (note: they don't sound like them at all). Basically a guitar trio with a signing flutist (but not our Tull Mad Flauter, more like Bloomdido Bad De Grass Malherbe), their sound approaches a Floyd-ish (circa Saucerful or live Ummagumma), a calmer Guru Guru (UFO and Hinten) and early Gong (Continental Circus OST), even if vocally they might have been stronger (but as I warned above, recording vocals in a different studio than the music, probably caused difficulties). But Ame Son managed to remain accessible by never over-stretching their talents or their improvisations. In many ways, Catalyse reminds me of Dashiell Hedayatt's jaw-dropping Obsolete (which is also Gong-related) with their raw hippy dreamy rock. Most of their tracks (none shorter than six minutes) are subdivided into sections of which Coeur Fou and Reborn This Morning are the highlights, but there are some real flaws: Coup De H/Sable Mouvants is not only slightly weaker, but definitely not well recorded. Two bonus tracks from a single are added on the Spalax Cd reissue, and they are fairly well in the spirit of the album (even if shorter), but a good remastering job is more than needed for that single and the full album.

After touring extensively France for two years, the group split up in mid-71, after some recording sessions to reform in 73 with a different line-up and made recordings, which also did not materialize, in a second album. AS's only album is one of those French pearl that qualifies as psych proto-prog and is very much recommended to anyone into Gong, Daevid or early Softs and untamed Floyd. For my part, I find this album stunning and in my French top 20 - Zeuhl notwithstanding..................

The origins of Âme Son go back to the mid sixties, when Bernard Lavialle (guitar), Bernard Stisi (guitar, vocals), Patrick Fontaine (bass) and Marc Blanc (drums) formed Les Primitiv's circa 1965. They took the Parisian stages with a Yardbirds / Pretty Things inspired wild R&B set, and they kept active until Stisi left in 1967. At that point they changed their name to Expression, and with a more experimental approach they took their newly find free rock sound a la Soft Machine to night clubs and also to exhibitions of modern art. It was around that time that Marc Blanc met Australian ex-patriate Daevid Allen, who had been the guitarist with the Soft Machine until he hadn't been allowed to return to the UK after some South of France gigs of the band. Allen settled in Paris where he would form Gong, but before that he was to be joined by Blanc and Fontaine in his new project Banana Moon.

After the Banana Moon period Lavialle, Fontaine, Blanc and flutist Francois Garrel regrouped under the name of Âme Son and were featured with great acclaim on some of the most important festivals of the era. The BYG label signed them and in 1970 they recorded their now legendary LP. The album was conceived pretty quickly and it has a spontaneous, energetic psychedelic / free rock feel with a pretty psychedelic prog sound that drinks from the same springs as bands such as Gong, The Soft Machine, The Pink Floyd or Guru Guru. Âme Son were one of the earliest French rock bands to go beyond the conventional rock & roll of the time, and 'Catalyse' is considered to be one of the first truly progressive / underground efforts at 33 tours in France.

The Wah Wah reissue features the original German gatefold cover, remastered sound, a repro of a very cool original Âme Son period poster plus photos and liner notes. Strictly limited to only 500 copies! .....................

Line-up / Musicians
- Bernard Lavialle / guitar
- Patrick Fontaine / bass guitar
- Marc Blanc / voice, drums
- Francois Garrel / voice, flute

Tracklist
A1a Hein, Quant A Toi
A1b Wie Tot Die Wiederweckung Ist
A1c Hommage
Cœur Fou
A3a La Globule
A3b Le Mal Sonne
B1a Eclosion
B1b Marie Der Vier Winde
B2 Reborn This Morning On The Way Of ...
B3a A Coup De Hache - Mit Dem Schlag Der Axt
B3b Les Sables Mouvants

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..