Monday, January 12, 2015

DEBILE MENTHOL – Emile Au Jardin Patrologique (LP-1981)

Label: RecRec Music – REC REC 01
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: Switzerland / Released: 1981
Style: Avantgarde, Prog Rock, Contemporary Jazz
Recorded in October 1981 at Sunrise Studio, Kirchberg, Switzerland
Artwork – Peter Bäder
Engineer – Bubu Steiner, Etienne Gonod, Roebel Vogel
Producer – Débile Menthole, Rec Rec Zürich
Printed By – Printoset, Zürich

Débile Menthol comes as the Swiss response to the Belgian Aksak Maboul with a Nutty side probably even more pronounced and from here and there, some specific to the time influences (very Talking Heads "A Nos Mamans'' and "Crash Que Peut").

        Ici Derrière
A1 - Stamoï De Cousu . . . . . . . . . . 1:04
A2 - Très Amusant, Major . . . . . . .  8:05
A3 - Tante Agathe . . . . . . . .  . . . . . 1:57
A4 - Coupe-Rose . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  1:56
A5 - Spacio Cib.   . . . . .  . . . . . . . .  7:18
A6 - Rien . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  1:54
        Là-Bas Devant
B1 - A Nos Mamans . . . .  . . . .  . . . 4:43
B2 - Mort Aux Dahus . . . . . . . . . . .  3:04
B3 - La Jupe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5:49
B4 - Je Regarde Par La Fenêtre . . . 3:41
B5 - Crash Que Peut . . . . . . . . . . . .4:21

François Liègme - (drums, percussion)
Patrice Dupasquier - (saxophones)
Cedric P.Vuille - (clarinette, guitar, drums)
Ivan G.Chkolnix - (bass, guitar)
Marie C.Schwab - (violon, chant)
Christian G.Addor - (keyboards, basse, chant)
Gilles Vincent Rieder - (drums, percussion, bass, voice)
Jean-Maurice Rossel - (bass, guitare)
Jean-Vincent Huguenin - (guitar, percussion, voice)

Essential RIO band, this group uses sophisticated rock based compositions and a very strange sense of humour to make some of the greatest pieces of complex rock music imaginable. Chris Cutler states that, while many bands are thrown around as belonging to RIO, this is one of the bands that would have been invited had the timing been possible.

Once upon a time in Neuchatel, Switzerland there was this band called Debile Menthol who played Rock In Opposition in the vein of Samla Mammas Manna, Etron Fou and Henry Cow and with a sort of minimalistic approach that reminds Massacre (Fred Frith).
Founded in 1979, this band managed to record only two albums - Emile Au Jardin Patrologique (1981) and Battre Campagne (1984).
The first album is rather cheerful sounding (with occasional darker parts), jazzier and has a large lineup consisting of 9 members (playing on violin, sax and clarinet among others). This album can appeal to Samla Mammas Manna and Miriodor fans.
Overall this is a weird sounding band, which created a mix of quirky rock, punk, fusion, free jazz and plain eccentricity. The lyrics (when there are any) are being spoken (sometimes at high tone) in a non-melodic style (not sung and to me reminds of Massacre and The Clash) in French and filled with satire and humour (as their name might suggests). During their tours the band was under financial and personal stresses which lead to its disbanding and the creation of two other bands.

Emile Au Jardin Patrologique, studio album (1981)
Battre Campagne, studio album (1984)

Debile Menthol ‎second album

Recorded in the Fall of 81, Debile Menthol's debut album is very much in advance of its time and was obviously very influential for many group that are developing the Avant Prog genre (whatever that may be) today. From the Quebecois Miriodor, Rouge Ciel and Interference Sardine, to Finland's Alamaailman Vasarat or Uzva, to Belgium's Julverne, X- Legged Sally Hardscore or Cro Magnon etc.: all of these groups owe IMHO a big debt to Debile Menthol's works. Debile Menthol is a 9-man formation (most are multi- instrumentalists), from which will emerge Rossel and Huguenin.

While Debile Menthol's music is a rather crazy pot-pourri of musical influences and borrowings, they often remain fairly accessible, fun, often going into the bombastic and grotesque folkloric fair music (like the Oktoberfest beer-bingeing music or circus music for example). The album is fairly acoustic (just some synths and electric guitars) and mainly instrumental, with only a few weird French rather-funny vocals in off-voices, but they can get demented as well. In the album highlight A Nos Mamans (To Our Mothers), they sound for a small minute like the Sranglers, if you can believe it. Other tracks can sound like some crazy Devo or Talking Heads (Regarde Par La Fenêtre and Crash Que Peut), but the whole thing being much more complex and as much fun.

Most likely one of the most influential album in the "Avant Prog" genre, given its early release date, and a fun one too. Only for progressive nutheads with a few loosened bolts above the neck level.
_ Review by Sean Trane

I have listened to this album at least 20 times through, and it never ceases to amaze me. The instrumentation on this album akin to the virtuoso lunacy to be found on Begnagrad's eponymous album. Strange melodies and song structures dominate this LP, from the folksy, classically-influenced musings of Tres Amusant, Major to the haunting industrial vortex of Rien. I speak very sparse French, so I have no idea what these people are saying, and that is probably for the better. This album, as a whole, exhibits a slightly unhinged quality, as one would experience in a conversation with a seemingly normal person who nevertheless seems barely able to conceal his/her insanity. Bubbling beneath the surface of this album is a kind of demented-circus-quality of madness that seems at once both endearingly amusing and subtly dangerous. 
A must-have album for those who enjoy like their prog waaayy out there.    
_ jglowe77

If you find it, buy this album!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. New Link:

      DEBILE MENTHOL – Emile Au Jardin Patrologique (LP-1981)
      Vinyl Rip/FLAC+Artwork



    3. Oh! I'm too late, it's gone.

      I'm been asking if there's any blog that has in their remit Rock in Opposition. I didn't know that you occasionally published RiO! I will look more carefully in future.


    4. Soon I'll make a new link.

    5. Not that I think you just make a link for me, but I found the album in my collection after I posted that. Very embarrassing!

    6. But it's okay, I definitely have to make new links for dozens of good albums that can not be downloaded right now.

  2. Oh, yes, this is a fantastic album (from a fantastic band, and a fantastic label). Thank you!

    1. Oh, what a nice mood. I'm glad that I made a good day :)

  3. RecRec #01! Thanks for sharing this, Vitko - I have the CD compilation with both albums on it, but only here I find out where the early RecRec logo comes from - from the back of the album (the jumper with the microphone stand!). Cheers!

    1. Yes, it all started when the designer and graphic artist Peter Bäder developed the sketches with many different details for this twisted cover and came up with the idea and suggested that the jumper with the microphone become a trademark of the newly established REC REC Records. You have to admit that it is very crazy and original. He's working on HOCHSCHULE LUZERN - DESIGN & KUNST.
      Cheers Lucky.

    2. The collage looks a bit like John Heartfield's, although less political and more playful. The cover is also excellent - way more artful than the CD-reissue (but on the CD there's the whole music, nice and handy).

      A lesser-known follow-up band is Les Sales Combles, just as quirky as Debile Menthol - they issued one EP and one CD (I posted both on earlier blogs).

    3. Yes, there are some points in common.

      Can you Les Sales Combo set up on your present blog, I am very interested.

    4. Yes, sure! I can't promise this week, though, but in the not too far future.

      You're posting some absolute R.I.O. classics right now!

    5. My story mainly revolves (in one way or another) about Chris Cutler, but outside of Henry Cow. I have a few more unusual albums, relatively unknown to a wider circle, so slowly, when comes right moment. Resting a little bit of jazz. With friends I entered in the new year listening to these albums. Many were been again pleased. We remembered some good days when we were young and stupid and gave last coin for a good LP.

    6. Recently I got rips of some few very rare RIO-related albums, which I posted last year, such as:

    7. Very impressive list, will be delighted all of them who missed it, or possibly did not understand what you're offering. Expect a rush these days :)

      Cheers, Lucky.

    8. People who know me know of my crush on RecRec + related stuff, I rolled the drums for them since 2006. :)

      And like you, Vitko, I have to step away from improv/Jazz music from time to time and allow my years some other structures + sonics.


      P. S.: If the rush will be reaching the high water mark, I simply delete the list above... ;)

    9. My man :)
      I recently got King Crimson "Starless" tour 1973/74, some twenty concerts and I only now found the time to dedicate it a little better. After Glasgow and Zurich now I got into madness, in the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, November 23, 1973, God, what a gig. Such improvisation "Starless And Bible Black" and "Fracture" I have not yet heard.
      Do you like Crimson?

    10. To tell you the truth, Vitko, no, I don't like King Crimson, same with Soft Machine (though I adore Robert Wyatt), and not even Henry Cow (though I like Frith, and some of the other members stuff). I like early Can, Faust and Neu, and I'm a big fan of Cpt. Beefheart / Magic Band and The Residents / Snakefinger. But Prog Rock isn't something that lets my blood boil, really...

    11. I assumed that this is so, especially when I saw with how much enthusiasm you put on the blog Holger Czukay albums. Yes, and I love early CAN.

    12. I haven't met people who like Frith and Lindsay Cooper, but don't like Henry Cow, or Wyatt but not Soft Machine. I can't explain why, maybe I'm deaf on that other ear. Same with Czukay - I like those solo albums more than early Can, they're more open and ... lucky :) I'll post those Sales Combles soon, but there's some stuff to prepare, and I have visitors on the weekend... Good things can wait, though... :) Cheers, Vitko!

    13. Only easy Lucky, without excitement :)

    14. Only just came across this thread guys, and just had to say I'm with Vitko on this, I just adore King Crimson. Not sure I'd associate them so tightly with prog rock (which didn't exist at the time - just a label bestowed after the event), to me just wonderful musicians playing wonderful music. I'm also a big Beefheart fan (and Sun Ra & Neil Young, among many others). It's odd the way things that are wildly different make a similar impression, and maybe define ones likes & dislikes. For me, I suspect it's people who do what they do because they have to, irrrespective of the public reaction. The only thing I can't listen to really is Country & Western - but then, there's Gene Clark from that tradition, and 'No Other' is one of my top 10 favourite albums ever...

  4. Possibly the only RIO associated band I've never heard. Till now. Greatly enjoying this. Thankyou.

  5. Amazing! It has instantly taken a place among my favourites from this wonderfully strange scene. Thank you very much Vitko.

  6. dear vitko
    could you be so kind to give me a link to reach "DEBILE MENTHOL Emile Au Jardin Patrologique"!!! anyway > tanx a lot for your shared MUSICAL PASSION!!!!!

    1. GREAT! thankyouverymuch ... and "really looking forward" for the new link, i give you a strong&big hug, vitko! ...and > something from the CAN family??! ermanno

    2. The new link will be during the day. Oh ... much I love CAN. I have a lot of good things. What interests you?

      PS: Do you know that two days ago died Jaki Liebezeit, CAN Drummer and Co-Founder?


    3. ...SADLY that's why i ask you about the CAN & Family! ... i let you choose for the MUSIC!!! (i have CDs, but your LPs high quality digital versions are REALLY GREAT!!!!!) thankyouVITKO! ermanno

  7. Hello. First time I ear about this group. Interested by their name, i find a funny and exciting music. Possible to reload the link ? Thanks for your blog, so much things i discover.

  8. I'll try to make a new link as soon as possible.