This reissue drags Jean Cohen-Solal’s two solo albums out of oblivion in style. It puts both his 1971 LP, Flûtes Libres, and his 1973 LP, Captain Tarthopom, on a single CD, adding a brand new seven-minute piece (“Quelqu'un 2003”) to round things up. The music belongs to the more experimental end of early progressive rock, drawing from classical and psychedelic music, with hints of Krautrock. Then again, much like other French artists from that period like Jacques Berrocal or Fille Qui Mousse, Cohen-Solal’s music defies categorization. Friendlier than those artists’ because of its heavier reliance on melody, it gets its uniqueness from the instrumentation. Besides being a skilled flutist, Cohen-Solal also plays organ, piano, and double bass. These instruments form the core of Flûtes Libres, adding only tabla and sitar for “Raga du Matin.” Often considered to be the weakest of the two albums, it must not be overlooked. The fact that it lacks drums and guitar actually means that it takes more risks. The “Concerto Cyclique” messes around with concerto and bolero forms. “Quelqu'un,” which filled all of side two on the original LP, contains some very interesting passages where bowed double bass and organ drone together. For Captain Tarthopom, Cohen-Solal recruited extra musicians to play electric guitar and bass, drums, trumpet, trombone, and Ondes Martenot – although these instruments don’t appear all at once in the same piece. “Ludions,” “Intime Panique,” and “Fossette Surprise” all feature a driving rock beat and fluttering multi-tracked flute parts, giving the album more of a Jean-Pierre Rampal-goes-Krautrock feel. “Mémoires d'un Ventricule,” ten minutes long, picks up where “Quelqu'un” had left, alternating rich atonal textures and beat-driven outbursts in a way that strongly evokes Faust and Neu! The new piece, “Quelqu'un 2003,” is a dizzying computer construction of flute, double bass, and electronics, proving that Cohen-Solal’s music can make it and has made it to the 21st century. Recommended……by François Couture………..
Born in 1946, Jean Cohen-Solal studied music at the National Academy in Nimes from 1956 to 1963. Flute was his major, but he also studied the double bass. He learned counterpoint, harmony, chamber music & orchestration. From 1963 to 1966, he attended the Academy of Versailles with Cazauran Stone as his double bass teacher, and studied flute with Roger Bourdin and Gaston Crunelle and with the CNSM of Paris.
In 1965, Jean made connections with the GRM (Group of Musical Research of the ORTF >> the National French Broadcast system). Between 1966 to 1973 he worked on the phenomenally popular French animation “The Shadoks”, a series by Jacques Rouxel. He created the voice “Shadok”, did the sound effects, and served as assistant and musical interpreter. In 1969, he was a prizewinner at the international contest of flute of Montreux (Switzerland). He also won the prize at the International Contest of Chamber Music at Colmar. From 1970 to 1989, Cohen-Solal taught flute in the Paris area at a variety of academies and workshops. Jean’s history as musician is long and fascinating, with his career as theatre and film composer.
In the early 70’s, J C-S will join the progressive movement pervading through the French rock scene and participated to a few group’s recording, as well as releasing two albums under his own name, the first of which, Flutes Libres (free flutes) is a stunning experimental work mixing all kinds of musical influences and styles including raga. His second spoof-titled album Captain Tarthopom (Capt apple pie) veered a tad more jazz and held shorter more humorous tracks, but was no less experimental. He continued the 70’s participating in myriad of projects, like Saga Of Lodbrok in 78
He went back soon enough into experimental music, becoming director of ADMC (association for development of contemporary music) and creating his own group Temps Real…………..
Jean Cohen-Solal released two albums, “Flute Libres” in 1971 and this album from 1973. For me it’s really a toss-up as to which one I like better. Although I do think the debut shows off his skills with the flute better. “Captain Tarthopom” opens with church bells before the music comes in and builds including horns, flute and more. It ends with the sounds of chickens and it is pretty funny. “Ludions” is fairly uptempo with bass, a beat and flutes. The flute stops and then fuzz comes in before a minute and it’s nasty. That really changes the mood here as it’s much darker. The flute does return after 2 minutes with some nice drum work to follow as it picks up. Flute only ends it. “Ab Hoc & Ab Hac” has flute and lots of fuzz early on. Great sound here. The fuzz stops after 2 minutes as the flute leads. The organ comes to the fore. It sounds like vibes to end it.
“Intime Panique” has a beat with flute as horns join in. It becomes really intense late. “Memoire D'un Ventricule” is the longest track at over 10 minutes. This is somewhat haunting with flute and cymbals leading and this section ends around 2 ½ minutes as drums and atmosphere take over. The beat stops after 4 minutes as it becomes haunting again. The organ becomes the focus here and it’s still dark. “Fossette Surprise” opens with piano, a beat and flute leading the way. Silly marching styled drums end it. “Quelqu'un 2003” is eerie as sounds come and go. The mood changes a little a minute in. Violin and flute lead. The intensity lifts 5 minutes in.
I can’t say enough about the two albums that this talented man released. If you like adventerous music that can get a little dark at times you really need to check these out….. by Mellotron Storm ……………..
The main problem with the flute in a rock setting is arguably Ian Anderson. His majestic stork stands and his larger than life persona all tooted out through this breezy woodwind, is something that resonates with people. It is something that is remembered, in fact so much that bands that feature a flute on a regular basis often get labelled as Jethro Tull wannabes. Well there are other ways of approaching this instrument. Just putting this album on will open up an entirely different world of sounds and tapestries that in no way, shape or form harks back to our most beloved humanized stork.
Jean Cohen-Solal was born in 1946 and already at the age of 10 he was attending musical studies at the national academy in Nimes. Although he majored in the flute, he was no slouch on the double bass, which again points a finger towards his inexhaustible quench for music in all of its facets. This natural curiosity ultimately spurred him on to study counterpoint, harmony, chamber music and orchestrations. He went on to hone his skills at the academy of Versailles, where all of these fascinating inputs slowly came together to form some kind of esoterically charged musical beast.
All in all Solal is what I’d call a craftsman. He learned about music the hard way, and speaking from a personal point of view, I have actually always went for the opposite musicians such as the Jimi Hendrixes and the Eddie Van Halens. The self taught prodigies who sleep with their instruments and learn secret musical languages on their own. However, I must admit that I am completely smitten by this man and the sheer power and ingenuity of his playing. If you thought the flute was a silly hippie accessory or a side dish of Jethro Tull then think again matey. It can be whizzing, ugly, soothing, violently bobbing, heretic, almost robotic, clean as a baby’s bottom and strangely rhythmic in nature. All of these different traits are fascinatingly conveyed on Flute Libres, which quite aptly named simply means The free flute.
There are a multitude of different genres coming together on this debut album, and straight away you get the impression that you certainly aren’t embarking on a clear cut symphonic quest. As a matter of speculation, I’d deem the first one here to be a French psychedelically charged take on Krautrock. It wields a powerful sweaty rhythm section that takes the simple melodies of the flute and transform them into a dirty, funky and meaty hook. I instantly fell in love with this record the first time I heard this tune.
Without further ado and with nothing insinuated, we are flown halfway across the globe and the music is now remarkably Indian and folk laden. Two short tracks that intertwine Middle- Eastern and Indian cultures around the man of a thousand breaths and his woodwind. They work as a midway section for the audience to catch their breaths and prepare for the last musical frontier.
Finally the closing experiment takes you to those dark and brooding planetary soundscapes, where only acts like Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze did roam. It is music that dissolves and lingers simultaneously on the wind - like throwing sea salt on your lover’s tongue and watch it disappear slowly - absorbing - disintegrating into the dark red flesh in a macabre and yet very beautiful manner. It is not a long way from the music you’ll get from Cage and Stockhausen, and even though I don’t particularly like or endorse the label “musique concrete” - mainly because it bears connotations with unfathomable music, and name wise actually never really gets close to any sort of plausibly description, - even so, I must confess that this last track flutters away on similar paths as the aforementioned musical concrete builders. If you however despise every single note and gesture done by either one of these during their “experimental sprees”, then you’d do yourself good in listening to Solal’s version of disintegrating music. Just his way of playing the flute on this final track has me thinking: Shoals of flying fish equipped with minuscule windy kazoos and jet packs. Or perhaps my favourite image of this effervescent and experimental track is the interplanetary fighter-plane space birds and floating sand dunes in mid air.
Flute Libres is recommended to seekers of experimental music, lovers of Krautrock and the odd flute aficionados that revel in this instrument’s floating and oceanic character………..by Guldbamsen ……………..
First formed in electro acoustic researches and in contemporary improvised music, Jean Cohen Solal delivered two intriguing, very personal albums during the 70’s. Today, Flute libres and Captain Tarthopom can be considered as ultimate masterpieces without reaching a specific musical label. These albums are a perfect mix between buzzing sitar-like mantra, weird electronic dream-like psychedelica and jazzy acid rock. Captain Tarthopom starts the cosmic, magical dance with two haunting folkish-epic compositions that include a certain sense of humour and derision (self title). Ludious has a certain mystical aura, a psych- drone-evanescent, free rock composition with gorgeous enchanting flute lines accompanied by a solid jazzy-rock base. Ab Hoc & Ab Hac is a freak out folk song, imposing colourful flute solo lines, luminous organs. It also includes some variations on famous themes. Mémoire D'un Ventricule is the strongest composition, a real acid prog experience featuring abstract, lysergic organ chords, haunting ghostly-like chants and various sound manipulations. It reminds me Philippe Besombes and Igor Wakhevitch at their most sacred, trancey-like electronic moments. Captain Tarthopom is a brilliant, fantastic musical celebration with a handful of original ideas and a very personal, unique fusional approach. Truly recommended! Genius!…by philippe …..
Second album from this French avant-garde flutist, with a still-present but much toned-down mysticism, taking a second fiddle behind the humour of a marching band-type of music. Indeed even the title exudes a certain kind of slapstick humour (Capt Applepie), but it is not overpowering and we’re nowhere close to a Zappa album in this regard. Although the resulting album might appear more accessible, due to a “rock” format (including drums and electric bass) and shorter songs, the album is just as adventurous as Flutes Libres is. A grotesque horn is opening the title track, soon joined a strident flute, then a ridiculous organ chord over a cool bass and unsettling drum pattern and ending in chicken cackles, such is my description of the first track of this burlesque Tarthopom album. The following Ludions is a much more accessible (and fun), made by an excellent bass groove over some distant gong banging making a bit of a return to his previous album, Flutes Libres. With Ab Hoc & Ab Hac, JC-S explores a J-S B (Bach) theme with much success and a superb fuzz guitar and an Orgue De Barbarie solo and a musical box ending. The dual Mémoire D'un Ventricule is the album’s centrepiece, with the first movement returning to the dark broody mood of Quelqu'Un, the sidelong track of the debut album, while the second is more like a Saucerful-era Floyd with an ethereal female voice accentuating the feeling. The closing pun-intended Fossette Surpise (from Pochette Surprise) starts out as a happy-go-lucky two-flutes thing, before veering Floydish again, faking its ending classical-wise before taking over the original Tarthopom riff again, thus ending the album as it started.
You’ll find that the burlesque opening Tarthopom riff comes back now and again throughout the album’s course, often in a much less perverse and grotesque manner, linking rather well some songs and sometimes even in the middle of songs (Ludious). JC-S also plays a modified organ, which certainly adds more bizarre as if the album needed more of that. Many songs also include sound effects, from a music box to chickens to filtered human voices and the Ondes Martenot (also used by Harmonium in a couple years’ time.
Both albums of J C-S being equally rare and expensive (and excellent, IMHO), MIO records released the two of them on a single disc, so you won’t have to choose which one to investigate, although chances are that you’ll hear Flutes Libres first since it is first on that Mio release. And in the meantime, it will spare me the difficult task to tell you which album , I prefer…….. by Sean Trane ………..
Tracklist A1 Captain Tarthopom 3:02 A2 Ludions 4:41 A3 Ab Hoc Et Ab Hac 5:20 B1 Intime Panique 2:37 B2 Mémoires D'Un Ventricule 10:40 B3 Fossette Surprise 4:45