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(52:43, Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Margaretha 3:20 2. Ulysse 4:36 3. Raymond 15:03 4. Miaou 0:41 5. Butch 10:22 6. Modestine 18:43 LINEUP: Arnaud M'Doihoma – bass; vocals Gregory Pozzoli – guitars; vocals Philippe Prebet – guitars; vocals Thomas Larsen – drums; vocals
Prolusion. The French band JACK DUPON was formed back in 2004, and has slowly but surely risen to prominence amongst those who favor their progressive rock to be challenging and experimental in nature. They have a grand total of six full-length albums to their name at this point, of which four are studio productions and two document their live performances. "Tete de Chien" is the second of the live albums, released through Musea Records in the fall of 2014.
Analysis. Where to start and where to finish when describing the music of this band is always a challenging endeavor, as this is a combo firmly cemented in the most experimental parts of the progressive rock universe where common rules and boundaries are tossed aside. They wear their Rock In Opposition stance proudly, have played at Zappanale events and avant-garde festivals and fit in there with relative ease. But this is also a band that makes people older than myself with a lifelong passion for all things progressive shake their heads and admit that this stuff is just too weird for me. That the two first artists mentioned by the band as influences on their Facebook page is Frank Zappa and Primus does give some cues, though. Especially Primus, I guess, as a distinct and firm bass guitar is prominent in all of their songs. As are sequences of a fairly intense nature, at times I could draw comparisons towards early Killing Joke as far as that aspect is concerned, albeit without the darkness and angst that are so much a part of what that band did in their early days. The use of eerie guitar sounds is another aspect that merits a mention, with single and dual layers of guitars that alternate between twisted light-toned psychedelic dripping dual layers, a single layer with guitar riff support and then occasionally plain riffs and, on rare occasions, there's also room for some traditional melody-based soloing. At other times staccato, dramatic guitar bursts with an almost punk or hardcore-like attitude have their natural place in the proceedings too, with or without appropriate vocal support, and then there are moments where the band explores more tranquil territories, relatively speaking. Tranquil in this case meaning tranquil within this specific context. That there are four vocalists in this band who speak, shout, wail, make odd sounds, or effects-oriented theatrical expressions as another aspect of the grand totality, and that there's plenty of occasions that they do so in a whimsical and fairly obvious humorous manner is also worth taking note of. In sum this is music that remains hard to describe. Often chaotic in nature, unpredictable, and while one might get the impression that much of this is improvised the songs stay so recognizable from the studio versions to the live ones that this is probably less of an aspect than you might initially suspect. As with their previous live album Jack Dupon really comes across as a tight and entertaining live band. Where the studio versions may lack something of an edge and nerve, as a live band tension and nerve are present in truckloads. The sheer intensity is impressive, and the manner in which the band moves onwards with constantly shifting and developing themes that take care to revisit parts is impressive too. This is a band with more than 200 concerts under their belt, but they sound like they have many more, as the performances are just so tight and smooth. Again, relatively speaking, as far as the smooth is concerned, and I'll stress that this is in the context of how the songs unfold rather than any aspect of the style explored as such.
Conclusion. If you can imagine Frank Zappa hitting the stage with Primus, and opting to add in some psychedelic oriented sounds and passages while at it, then you should be in the right track as far as trying to figure out what Jack Dupon sounds like. This is one of the more challenging and intense progressive rock bands out there today, and this live album documents its strengths as a live band perfectly. As far as a recommended crowd goes, I'd generally say that those truly fond of artists described as RIO and avant-garde rock should give this album a check, and in particular those amongst them who enjoy the theatrical details you'll often encounter with French bands.
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