Saturday, December 8, 2007

Horde Catalytique Pour La Fin - Gestation Sonore (1971)

Rating 9.8

Every so often, a band's music is given the label "post-apocalyptic," but rarely does the music actually deserve it. In the case of Horde Catalytique Pour La Fin and their sole recording, Gestation Sonore, however, there can be no doubt whatsoever. Not only does this CD deserve the label, it positively defines it. There is no music more appropriate to be playing should an atomic world war come around. Just look at the band's name for starters. It translates to Catalytic Horde for the End, the end of course implying the end of the world (or, at least, one would assume).

But aside from the name, what is it about Gestation Sonore that makes it more deserving of the post-apocalyptic label than any other music before or after? Well, it is dissonant, difficult, obtuse, and downright frightening, and yet it is also beautiful. It lacks any notion of form (at least as you know it), and yet it possesses a flow most artists would die to have in their music. It creates bleak soundscapes only to disrupt them violently with bursts of action. It appeals to the heart, yet simultaneously bruises the mind and shreds the ears. In short, it is one of the best CDs you will ever hear, assuming you can tolerate the lack of any hooks, any flake of accessibility.

Make no mistake about the unaccessible nature of this music. Gestation Sonore makes Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica sound like radio fodder. Even those who, like I, have trained their ears to be open to any sort of sound will need time to get into this music, simply because the first listen (and probably several subsequent ones) will be spent trying to figure out exactly what is happening. At some point, however, it will all start to make sense, and it's true beauty will start to show through.

And what beauty it is. It's not beauty in the traditional sense, but it is beauty nonetheless, though the effect is hard to describe. Suffice it to say that if you listen to this album, around the fifth listen or so you will start to see what I (and others) mean when describing this music as beautiful. And even if you don't, you must still marvel at this album, for Gestation Sonore is the work of mind-readers, I guarantee you. How else could the notes come together so perfectly in this 100% improvised setting? How else could these musicians create music that resounds with enough power to steal away the listener's breath from start to finish? I honestly couldn't tell you, but I know from listening that, somehow, it happened. Perfectly.

This CD may only appeal to a small minority of the music-listening community, but if you are one of those few, this will strike you as one of the greatest things ever to happen to music. And, indeed, that is exactly what it is.

Gestation Sonore


Shakespeare said...

Wow. That was weird, and strangely pleasing. I will definitely listen to it again soon. Seems like a really accurate review.

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