ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages


Les Batteries - 1985 - "Noisy Champs"

(62:45, Gazul/Musea Records)

TRACK LIST:                   
1.  Noisy Champs 3:39
2.  Sunday and Dimanche 2:46
3.  Identity Parade 1:46
4.  Polar 1:30
5.  Post-Polar 2:06
6.  Dernier Solo Avant l'Autoroute 2:46
7.  White Elegance 5:54
8.  The Letter 1:57
9.  Dernier Rendez-vous au Gord 2:53
10. Flintstone 1:35
11. Maksymenko 2:20
12. 3 Hommes et Un Mouchoir 2:13
13. 3 Legs for 2 Birds 2:06
14. Supply and Demand 3:04
15. Stop Those Ideas 2:20
Bonus tracks:
16. Rosetta 4:11
17. Vieux divan 3:20
18. Le Pad a Papa 2:16
19. Ondo Martini 4:00
20. Pocket 3:11
21. Concoction 4:52


Charles Hayward – drums, percussion; keyboards; vocals 
Guigou Chenevier – drums, percussion; saxophone 
Rick Brown – drums, percussion; clarinet 
Michael Maksymenko – percussion 
Sue Garner – bass 

Prolusion. The multinational ensemble LES BATTERIES was assembled by Guigou Chenevier (ex-Etron Fou Leloublan) in 1985, consisting of himself and fellow drummers Rick Brown and Charles Hayward. Hayward decided to move on to other pastures in 1987, but the project continued on as a duo utilizing various guest musicians as needed. "Noisy Champs" was the only album recorded by the initial version of the band, and was originally issued back in 1986. Largely unavailable for many years, Musea Records decided to reissue this production on their Gazul imprint in 2010, adding a total of six bonus tracks, all of them efforts of a more recent date.

Analysis. When dealing with a band choosing Les Batteries as their moniker and consisting of three drummers, most would expect any albums resulting in such a collaboration to be of a rather limited nature and scope. And while this might also be an accurate and comprehensive description of this excursion, the nature of the creations making up this disc will most likely be somewhat surprising for many. Mostly due to the variety of the material at hand, which does extend a bit beyond the drum and percussion experiments I presume many would assume to solely make up such a venture. Not that this is a wildly eclectic creation spanning multiple genres and expressions; rhythms and percussion are the most central elements throughout, but even if confined to rhythmically-dominated numbers there is a fair bit of variety at hand here. The nature of these excursions is rather minimalistic, and a less-is-more approach is a central trait throughout, applied in different manners: from the loosely improvised drums-only efforts, like opening number and title track Noisy Champs, and later examples like Flintstone to the slightly more elaborate and sophisticated. The latter represented by pieces like the somber, funeral-like Identity Parade with its improvised sax and organ explorations supported by the sticks. The energetic tribal drum foundation of Post-Polar is another, featuring brief improvised drum insertions adding unpredictable facets to the pace-filled but predictable main motif. Additional elements beyond the rhythmic ones mostly play something of a minor role, and a fair few efforts are solely based on rhythmic experiments, mostly of an improvisational nature, and more often than not what most would describe as experimental as well. And as such productions often tend to be, it will most likely be regarded as something of an uneven one by most listeners. As is customary in this field of music, the performance is impeccable, but some of the material is of a nature that will only be enjoyed by a select few with a highly specialized interest in rhythmic experiments. Other efforts are less narrow in scope. Bonus track Pocket is one example of just that, with weary vocals over a circulating drum and organ construction I suspect should have a strong appeal to fans of an artist like Tom Waits. Personally I actually found the bonus tracks to be marginally more interesting than the reissued material, one of the rare cases where the additional material actually does represent a bonus feature to a reissued album.

Conclusion. If you have a more than passing interest in rhythm-dominated efforts, find experimental and minimalistic music to be generally intriguing, and adhere to the philosophy that the best and most interesting music is of a non-conformatist nature, Les Batteries is a band that warrants your attention. And while it may not be an example of sheer perfection from start to finish, there's a fair deal of interesting material to be found, with personal tastes and interests limiting or expanding the scope of this creation as far as enjoyable experiences go.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: December 10, 2010
The Rating Room

Les Batteries - 1985 - "Noisy Champs"


Analysis. Founded in 1985 by Guigou Chenevier, drummer and leader of Etron Fou Leloublan and Volapuk as well as important figure in the rock in opposition movement, LES BATTERIES is a group that consists of three excellent drummers rooted in avant-garde music. This band has released three albums, of which “Noisy Champs”, recorded in 1986, is the first and sole album to feature the outstanding Chenevier/Brown/Hayward trio. The pieces on Noisy Champs are all relatively short for a progressive album. Ranging from one to six minutes, the twenty-one compositions here can show the capacity of Les Batteries to create diverse moods and imagery. The music that appears on “Noisy Champs”, while evolving in a jazz (think Jason Adasiewicz), rock-in-opposition, industrial and contemporary (Varese would be a good comparison) context, is probably inaccessible for the average listener. It is the kind of music that is rewarding, but that slowly grows on said listener to become something enjoyable only after multiple listens. Firstly, the songs are complex, rhythmically, structurally and technically. Secondly, they are based on virtuosity rather than on catchy melodies and on harmony. They are dissonant, chaotic, but appreciable. It is also worth mentioning that, even if Les Batteries is a percussion trio, this music is not only based on drums. On some pieces, the trio is accompanied by squeaky saxophones and clarinets, new wave-inspired keyboards, jazzy vibraphone and occasionally by vocals, which add a humorous touch to the music, as the lyrics are somewhat Dadaist, surrealistic or simply absurd, reminding of Etron Fou Leloublan’s style, but sung in English. An interesting attribute of Les Batteries’ music is the combination of the three drummers’ styles. They all have a distinctive way of playing but manage to be in symbiosis altogether. While Les Batteries’ “Noisy Champs” is not the easiest music to get into, it can definitely be pleasant. It is indeed noisy by moments, as the title indicates, but it is always judiciously used, always relevant.

Conclusion. For a debut album, "Noisy Champs" is excellent. My only recommendation as to getting this album is to be precautious. This is not an album everybody will appreciate, and even those who would probably appreciate might need time to understand the album completely.

GR: October 15, 2010
The Rating Room

Related Links:

Musea Records


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