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Double album compilation of the first singles (1972-1980) of Richard Pinhas and his legendary bands: the mythical Heldon, Schizo, and T.H.X.. And, as a bonus, an excellent long, hypnotic, instrumental version of "Marie Zorn" (1999), previously unpublished.
"French rock and pop, when not being dismissed outright, are often discussed only in terms of English-language antecedents. Johnny Hallyday brings to mind Elvis, for example, and the chameleonic, hedonistic Serge Gainsbourg is sometimes compared to David Bowie-- the latter despite being a predecessor. Even in the French experimental and electronic communities, this tendency has reduced France's historical context. Magma is often filed away from its country in the auspices of the krautrock section, Parisian synth-punk groups like Metal Urbain are often viewed as a dark answer to-- you guessed it-- punk, and progressive and electronic composers like Richard Pinhas languish in the shadows of Manuel Göttsching, Klaus Schulze, and Conrad Schnitzler. This double LP compiles a number of Pinhas's early 7" singles, all released before the de facto beginning of his solo career, the 1980 masterpiece Iceland.
Even at his best, Pinhas also isn't above being directly influenced by his forebears. Alongside his solo work, the disc also chronicles Pinhas's work in the witty blues-based psych-rock outfit Schizo, as well as his Berlin School-influenced sequencer work with Heldon and his further experimentations in that scene as THX. Pinhas exhibited a fluidity that moved in the flowing undercurrent of technology in the mid-1970s, adopting the Moog and later sequencer sounds of his contemporaries with a decidedly direct approach to melody. These singles show Pinhas never shying away from synthesized or guitar-based leads at the outset, spurning the patient, sometimes half-hour long approaches adopted by Schulze and others in the Berlin camp. Even "Baader-Meinhof Blues", an eight-minute Heldon tune that owes a lot to Tangerine Dream's Rubycon and Phaedra, wastes little time in developing a bass synthesizer progression, and then an oblique distorted guitar lead.
Pinhas' solo work is some of the most arresting on the compilation. "West Side", one of the few vocal pieces outside of the Schizo singles, strikingly combines his dense electronic pulse with the anthemic noise of the emerging new wave. "Beautiful May" also hints at his increasing use of melodic synthesizers such as those on Brian Eno's Another Green World and his future use of tape-delayed guitar, a la Robert Fripp. Unfortunately, the Fripp & Eno comparison might be the most troubling of all that can be drawn with Richard Pinhas, especially considering that his later works like 1996's De l'Un et du Multiple rely on delay systems similar to Frippertronics. But as both that record and Single show, Pinhas composes with the intent of translating the sometimes obscure lexicon of technology with the wit and honesty he's carried since his absurdist Schizo days. Maybe the best defense for Pinhas-- hell, for all alleged French imitators-- is not that he took from those who came before him, it's that he took what came before him and made some damned sense out of it." Pitchfork