Saturday, 26 August 2017

CLAUDE LOMBARD - CHANTE (Sommor LP, CD).

It’s quite a trip going from representing Belgium at the 1968 Eurovision Song Contest to recording a stunning experimental pop album full of wonderful 60’s abstract–expresionism orchestrations with chimes and ondes Martenots (an early electronic musical instrument invented in 1928 by Maurice Martenot and a distant cousin of the Theremin) among gentle bass lines and ethereal organ drifting along with a dreamy use of echoes, reverbs and sometimes electronics………………..frankly, it’s a bit like Cliff Richard getting his freak on with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop during a weekend drug bender in the basement of Broadcasting House!!!! Although best known for her Eurovision exploits and her later career as a voice actor/singer for kids cartoons, Belgian maverick Claude Lombard recorded Chante, a strange and beautiful record of incredibly exquisite songs, all sung in French, as her debut album that is now a startling document of melancholic chanson psychedelia that staggeringly foreshadows the eerie, incorporeal sci–fi pop of Stereolab and, more specifically, early Broadcast by about 30 years. Originally released by the long defunct Palette label in 1969 and, like all records years ahead of their time, completely bombing commercially but living on by word of mouth as a cult album and considered a lost classic by those who had heard it. Spanish crate diggers Guerssen Records have rescued this brilliant record from obscurity and have reissued it for the first time with the rare original French edition gatefold kaleidoscopic artwork via their Sommor imprint, complete with with liner notes by pop connoisseur Don Sicalíptico.

Produced by Roland Kluger, (best known for his work with Belgian pop group Chakachas, who had a minor hit in the USA in the early 70s with ‘Jungle Fever’, and the Free Pop Electronic Concept), Chante is probably one of the unique examples of French songs with really gorgeous, untypical sound work, closer in their sonic range and complexity to UK and US proto–Psychedelic orchestration in the pop world. With it’s unusual mix of instrumentation, Chante has a otherworldly eerie atmosphere akin to the work by Bob Crewe and Charles Fox on the Barbarella soundtrack, The United States Of America and the early electronic work of Bruce Haack mixed with the sonic eccentricity of the White Noise album and the Psychedelic samba of Oz Mutantes, all tempered with mainland European cool. At it’s core Chante is a pop record, albeit a pretty strange and experimental one, made by a producer who wanted to push the boundaries and a singer who was more than happy to go along on the ride, having previously worked with Italian avant garde composer Luciano Berio. The songs are a work of beauty with Claude Lombard’s wonderful voice complementing the slightly off kilter arrangements. Any serious fan of Broadcast or Stereolab will fall in love with this absolutely gorgeous album forever………………tracks such as ‘Polychromés’, ‘Midi’, ‘L’ Usine’ and ‘L’Arbre Et L’Oiseau’ sound more relevant to the retro-futurist sounds of today than they did when first cut to wax nearly 50 years ago. A lost masterpiece emerges back in to the light.

Chante by Claude Lombard is out NOW on vinyl and CD. You can gets yer hands on this gem from the very best record shops, the usual suspects on line and, of course, direct from the Guerssen Records web shop.


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