Neuf songes

by Noëtra

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French band from Creyssensac, found by guitarist Jean Lapouge in 1976, at a time when he had sufficiently developed his composing skills.He was accompanied by his longtime follower Daniel Renault on drums along with bassist Denis Lefranc and Christian Paboeuf on wind instruments.A first demo was recorded in winter 1978/1979, followed by an album, ''Neuf songes'', which was handed to ECM in chase for a contract, that never became true.However the material along with some other recordings was collected by Musea Records and released in 1992 in CD format.
With an expanded line-up including seven guest musicians on brass/wind/string instruments and Lapouge presence always on the forefront, ''Neuf Songes'' explores the boundaries of Chamber Music, Jazz-Rock and RIO, around the time Lapouge was inspired by the music of HENRY COW, MAGMA and EBERHARD WEBER.One can find several different orientations in Noetra's arrangements.The guitar-dominated parts turn from energetic Jazz-Rock to harmonic Chamber Rock in a blink of an eye with the light support of violins, cellos and flutes, always offering some fine interplays and a deep atmosphere.But there is a strong tendency towards Modern Classical music among Lapouge's ideas with dominant use of trombones, saxes, clarinets and oboe, eventually coming up with a small orchestra performing delicate Chamber Music.But also much of the material stands somewhere inbetween the two styles, where a dynamic rock section with a jazzy edge leaves its place to the Classical-influenced solos of the string and wind section.Overall this is over 70 minutes of compelling and highly adventurous musicianship with a great technical level.
In Lapouge's biography the listener can find the reason this material was never originally released.It turned to be some of the album's technical flaws, but the general deep and ''difficult'' approach allows some.Thanks to Musea the album has seen the light over a decade later and comes up as an effort, which fans of the aforementioned styles are sure to appreciate. Recommended stuff.

Olav Bjornsen
03 07 2012

Prolusion. The French ensemble NOETRA was first and foremost the creative vehicle of composer and guitarist Jean Lapouge. Active in various line-ups in the late 1970's and early 1980's, Noetra was the band that almost made it. ECM were initially interested in signing them, but as more material was produced the interest declined, and while the band did carry on until 1985 they never managed to release anything when active. Enter Musea Records, which some years later managed to convince Lapouge that the material recorded back then was worth releasing on CD. At the time of writing the end result of this process has been that material for three full length productions have been salvaged from Lapouge's archives.
Analysis. The first Noeta album, "Neuf Songes", is an intriguing but also fairly demanding production to get into. Especially for those less accustomed to material drawing directly upon classical music in general and chamber music in particular for inspiration, and if you're not overly familiar with jazz either this is a disc that will demand a bit more attention from you than you'd normally have to invest when listening to an album's worth of music. The key element throughout isn't a demanding one as such admittedly, as Lapouge's light toned and mostly gentle guitar motifs revolve around subtle details and careful exploits rather than dramatic excursions and flamboyant showmanship as such. While less visible and frequently taking a back seat as far as the dominating spots go, his guitar motifs are the heart and soul of this production, the gentle recurring element and underlying feature that unites everything else that's ongoing. Which at times is a lot. The compositions themselves aren't overly uniform in expression. Quite a few compositions include the occassional jazz-oriented detail, but while this is an important element, the dominating and overall style of this production has its heart and soul closer to classical music. Opening piece and title track Neuf Songes emphasizes this quite nicely with its light toned, uplifting and vibrantly positive take on the chamber rock genre, the following Le Voyageur Egare se Noie Incognito contuining in that vein in a shorter and arguably truly brilliant manner. The chamber and classical music inspired tendencies stick through from these opening pieces until the very end, through careful, melancholic constructions emphasizing the mellower side of that expression to energetic, pace filled takes, with sparse arrangements giving ample room for the individual instruments to shine as well as rich displays featuring arrays of instrument motifs in tight harmonic interaction. A Pretendre s'en Detacher is a nice example of Noetra exploring the gentler aspects of their repertoire, while the stunning triple themed Printemps Noir is a good showcase for the band's more forceful displays. Concluding this CD we have the six part creation Periodes, arguably the most vibrant display of the band venturing closest to the classical music universe and an excellent demonstration of how to utilize dark and light timbres to create a strong and distinct nerve as well as employing themes that invite to contrasting emotional associations to sustain it.
Conclusion. While not without minor flaws, Noetra's “Neuf Songes” is a production that clearly merited a CD release. Fans of chamber music and chamber rock appear to be the main audience for this production, and in particular those with a taste for music of this kind closer to classical music than rock should find this album to be one that merits an inspection.

Alain Lachapelle, Canada
08 1993

If Miriodor sounds like Univers Zero in a good mood, Noetra then sounds like Univers Zero in a terrific good mood. There is some wonderful music in there. To a quartet of guitar, oboe/recorder, drums and bass/tuba are added violin, clarinet, soprano and tenor sax, flute, cello, trombone and alto violin. The melodies are not dissonant, but also reflects creative harmonies that varies from somber moods to bright expressions. The pieces are often based around apperggio-styled Jean Lapouge's textural guitar playing. They reflect some chamber music at times. And they also sound rockier at other times. If there's a class of artists/bands that are clean of any gimmicks to concentrate on the beauty of music, Noetra is certainly amongst them. Highly recommended! More than 60 minutes of a very fine music.

Wayside Music

This was the very first release, recorded 1979-81 of this wonderful chamber progressive band who use guitar, oboe, violin, clarinet, saxes, flutes, bass & drums. A gentle, beautifully scored sound that sounds like a completely original cross between Julverne & Miriodor and prime-era ECM (late 1970s). This was originally released about 20 years ago, and it has been out of print for about a decade and I very happy that this was reprinted again. All three of their archival/posthumous releases are great, but this one is my favorite by a couple of noses, and if you don't know them and want to know where to start, start here! Highly recommended.

Monsieur Délire
28/29 01 2011

Vraiment splendide, un bijou du rock progressif de chambre français. Une écriture fine, élégante, qui laisse beaucoup de place au hautbois. La pièce-titre et “Périodes” sont de splendides compositions en plusieurs mouvements qui rappellent la première période de Maneige, une touche de Conventum, un brin d’Anthony Phillips et un effluve d’Art Zoyd. Excellent son pour un document d’archive et le meilleur des documents posthumes de Noëtra.

Truly splendid, a gem of French chamber progressive rock. Sophisticated songwriting, elegant, with the oboe often taking the lead. The title track and “Périodes” are beautiful multi-movement compositions reminiscent of early Maneige, a bit of Conventum, a dab of Anthony Phillips, and the aura of Art Zoyd. Excellent sound for an archival document, and the best of all the posthumous Noëtra releases.

Prog Real Audio

This is an album that not very many people talk about, which is a shame, because it is a fantastic CD. I usually listen to CD's while sitting at my computer and often times get caught up in reading or typing, and forget what is playing. What I initially think of an album is highly influenced by how much it grabs my attention with something interesting and beautiful, and makes me say "wow, this is great, what am I listening to again?". The music has a certain amount that sounds similar to Jean-Luc Ponty's better material. But, it is more complex than that, with elements of chamber music. The band is also comparable to Carpe Diem.

Sergei Uvaroff
21 10 2014

Конец семидесятых - смутное время для интеллектуалов. Но во Франции, похоже, так не считали. Под нагретыми солнцем старыми крышами места хватало всем - и эстрадникам, и записным умникам вроде Жана Лапужа (р. 1953). Этот оригинал предпочитал идти по жизни собственным путем, не заимствуя, не клонируя и не подсматривая у других. В 13-летнем возрасте самостоятельно освоил гитару. Дальше - общий для большинства исполнителей момент: любительские группы, подпольные концерты, стратегические планы на будущее... Профессионалом Лапуж сделался в 1972-ом. Гастроли с танцевальными коллективами, активная сессионная деятельность и попутно - первые композиторские опыты. Разрываясь между роком и камерным форматом, Жан не отступался от идеи вывести среднее арифметическое из обоих направлений. Результат обернулся уникальным проектом Noëtra.
Из одиннадцати членов состава электроинструментами пользовались двое: непосредственно лидер да басист Дени Лефран. Остальные - ударник Даниэль Рено, скрипач Пьер Обер, виолончелист Дени Волле + шестеро духовиков (включая родного брата зачинщика мероприятия, тромбониста Клода Лапужа). За сравнительно малый период существования (неполная пятилетка) команда воплотила ряд студийных записей. Однако издавать их начали лишь в девяностые (спасибо энтузиастам с лейбла Musea). Возможно, и к лучшему. Ибо на волне нарождащейся популярности прогрессивного рока странное имя Noëtra для жаждущих необычного меломанов оказалось весьма кстати.
Хронологическую компиляцию "Neuf Songes" редкие критики атрибутируют практически одинаково: поминают Стравинского и Дебюсси, проводят аналогии с творчеством Julverne, Terpandre и отчасти Mahavishnu Orchestra. Справедливость подобных суждений ощущаешь уже при прослушивании титульной вещи. Действительно, трудно удержаться от сопоставлений с представителями бельгийской школы (тембровая насыщенность фактуры, смысловые колебания ритма - от деликатного до взвинченного, унисонные авант-приемы) и отголосками наследия гениального Игоря Федоровича Стравинского (характерный, с усилением/затуханием, мерцающе-рефлективный диалог флейты и кларнета). Правда, затем стилевые пересечения размываются, на поверхность выходит авторский почерк Лапужа, где рассудочным пассажам гитары противостоят эмоциональные всполохи струнного дуэта ("Le Voyageur Égaré se Noie Incognito"), к рок-энигматике примешивается бодрый брасс-орнамент ("Soir et Basalte"), а мрачная постапокалиптическая философия соединяется с лирической интонацией ("Errance"). Идейное поле трека "Résurgence D'Errance" базируется на логическом взаимопроникновении классицистических и джазовых элементов; дилогия "Agréments Parfaitement Bleus" демонстрирует, что есть chamber prog в понимании маэстро Жана, тогда как этюд "A Prétendre S'en Détacher" по кондициям ближе к незамутненной камерности тех же Julverne. Фреска "Noëtra" интереснейшим манером растворяет сугубо академические тенденции в темном хтоническом субстрате а ля King Crimson, после чего свершается поворот в сторону негромкой, но интригующей фьюжн-истории ("Sens De L'Après Midi"). Среди прочего Лапуж и К° венчают филармоническую эстетику с электрическим космизмом ("Galopera"), производят диверсионную вылазку на территорию духового джаз-рока ("Printemps Noir") и одаривают нас стройным циклом лаконично-выразительных акустических зарисовок ("Periodes - I-II-III-IV-V-VI").
Резюмирую: отличный обзорный экскурс в мир одной из любопытнейших европейских арт-формаций. Рекомендую.


released January 1, 1981

Jean Lapouge guitare
Christian Pabœuf hautbois, flûtes à bec
Denis Lefranc basse, basse à pistons, voix
Daniel Renault batterie, percussions, violon
Pierre Aubert violon
Pascal Leberre clarinette, saxophones soprano, ténor
Francis Michaud saxophones soprano, ténor, flûte traversière
Denis Viollet violoncelle
Claude Lapouge trombone
Jacques Nobili trombone
Laurent Tardif alto

Enregistré en 1979-81, Sorti en juin 1992
Recorded 1979-81, released june 1992




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Jean Lapouge Sarrazac, France

Guitarist Jean Lapouge was born in 1953 and was the leader of prog-rock group Noëtra (late 70s, early 80s). He continued his musical career with smaller ensembles (trios, in particular). he published in recent years a handful of discs with three formations with different instrumentation. (See for more information) ... more

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