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Tracklist: 1. Alearade 4:33 (Cauvin) 2. Coste & Jukka 4:10 (Cauvin) 3. Les nouvelles 6:24 (Marcombe) 4. Boucle aux oiseaux d'en face 2:30 (Cauvin) 5. Coup de folie 3:42 (Marcombe, Lamarque) 6. Etude No-1 4:27 (Cauvin) 7. Uppsala 12:40 (Cauvin) 8. Antrada 9:12 (Cauvin, Marcombe, Lamarque) 9. Chant de nuit 3:02 (Cauvin, Marcombe, Lamarque) 10. Entrechocs 5:57 (Cauvin, Marcombe, Lamarque) Tracks 1 to 7 are from the original "Uppsala" LP of 1983. Tracks 8 to 10 were recorded live in 1995. Remastered & released on CD in 2001. All music arranged & produced by Uppsala. Line-up: Philippe Cauvin - electric & acoustic guitars, vocals Dany Marcombe - bass guitar Didier Lamarque - drums & percussion With: Freddy Buzon - trumpet, synthesizer on tracks 8 to 10 Recorded & mixed by Philippe Ravon at "Carat Studio", Bordeaux, France. Tracks 8, 9, & 10 recorded live concert in Bordeaux on March 11 1995 (by Jean-Marie Avisse).
Prologue. Uppsala was formed way back in 1969 under the name Absinthe. Though in the second half of the 1970s their name was changed. The band's new name is the namesake of the Swedish city of Uppsala. The latter was the hometown of two guitar players, Coste Apetrea (of Samla Mammas Manna) and Jukka Tolonen, who Absinthe met while they were vacationing on the French South-West coast in 1978. What's especially interesting is that Uppsala were actively touring throughout the last three decades. Today the group is concentrating on putting together a new repertoire. They are looking forward to new concerts and finally, recording their second album. It's a uniquely rare case when there is only one album in the 'annals' (can't call it "discography") of the band, which has existed for more than 30 years. After a car incident in 1979, bandleader Philippe Cauvin has lost both of his legs. That disaster had probably became one of the main causes of his inactivity regarding the work on new material.
The Album. Well, let's regard this 18 year standing "Uppsala" the band's debut album and hope to listen to another one someday. Why you ask? It is because "Uppsala" is a very interesting and, in many ways, a unique album. Furthermore, it was created by musicians, who, at the time, have been greatly inspired (notice that I didn't say "influenced") by King Crimson's "Discipline" or, to be more precise, by a new musical discipline, which was invented by Robert Fripp toward the very end of the 1970s. To be honest, I came to this conclusion by no means immediately. Only after a few attentive listens to "Uppsala", I've found two little episodes on the album where one of the dozens of different guitar solos (on track 1) and one of the many diverse vocal parts (track 7) are similar to those by Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew, respectively. Whereas on the whole, this album resembles "Discipline" as, for example, Yes's "Close To the Edge" resembles Genesis's "Foxtrot". All of the songs of the "Uppsala" album were created within the framework of a unified stylistics, which can be defined as a complex and rather hard-edged guitar-based Art-Rock (not Symphonic!). It's obvious that Philippe Cauvin was a central figure of Uppsala, as the guitar parts play a prominent role in the arrangements of all compositions on the album. A real guitar wizard, Cauvin plays electric, semi-acoustic, and 'classical' acoustic guitars all with equal mastery. Also, it must be said that in the process of recording the "Uppsala" album, Philippe had effectively used not only the possibilities of overdubbing, but also the guitar synth. In that way, most of the arrangements on the album consist of a wide variety of complex and rather eclectic interplay between various electric and acoustic guitars, some of which sound like a synthesizer, and the diverse parts by both of the rhythm section's bosses. Throughout the album, all of this is accompanied by frequent and often sudden changes of tone and mood, sound effects, noises, etc. In addition to his compositional and performing skills, Philippe Cauvin is also a unique singer-chameleon, whose original rough vocals can also be as high-pitched as a female's. In fact, there are more vocalizes than real vocals on the album, though the instrumental parts are always in the forefront of the arrangements: regardless if Philippe sings at the moment or not. Three of the last tracks on the album are the most recent recordings by Uppsala. Both of the last songs were, on the whole, created within the framework of Uppsala's original style. Even Philippe's firm vocalizes are here. And of course, the addition of a saxophonist / keyboardist in the band's line-up seems more than justified. The real interplay between guitar, saxophone, and synthesizer sounds richer than a few overdubbed parts of guitar. However, Antrada (track 8) turned out to be the only composition on the album, wherein the arrangements of which consists of purely jazzy improvisations by all four of the band members.
Summary. "Musea" is one of just a few labels that carry out musical excavations, and Uppsala's album is probably the most significant discovery by the label in the new millennium. So far the only album by this band comes highly recommended to most of the 'classic' Prog-lovers, but especially to those into guitar-based Progressive and bands like Djam Karet, The High Fidelity Orchestra, and of course, King Crimson of the 1980s and 1990s.
VM. February 8, 2002
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