Jean Lapouge, leading composer and guitarist of the French instrumental band Noëtra, mixed all sorts of music on Live 83. However, don't take the word 'live' that literally, because the album has been recorded live in a studio and not during a live performance before an audience. Lapouge has been inspired by jazz, chamber music and rock. In addition, he's influenced by classical composers like Igor Strawinsky and Claude Debussy. In the biography I read that Noëtra once had a record deal with the ECM jazz label, but ECM didn't fulfil this contract and thus they never released any album at all. However, the French progressive label Musea gathered material that was recorded between 1979 and 1981 and released two albums of Noëtra: Neuf Songs and Définiment Blues plus Hauts Plateaux, a solo album by Jean Lapouge. On Live 83 Lapouge plays together with Christian Paboeuf (flutes), Pierre Aubert (violin), Denis Lefranc (bass) and Daniel Renault (drums).
Long Métrage, the first song of the album, can be divided into four parts. The first part begins with an oriental theme. The violin, guitar and drums gave me the feeling that I listened to a jazz-combo somewhere in North Africa. The funky sounding clarinet is played cheerfully. The second part is dominated by the electric guitar, beautifully played by Jean Lapouge. The third part halfway is more hectic and restless while the last part is very atmospheric. I got images of Maya's playing in the dark forests of South America. Jour De Fete is a typical French gypsy song. You can easily forget your strenuous life if you listen attentively to this song. It contains many mellow and melancholic moments and the main instruments guitar, bass, violin and drums get their own solo spots. Forfanterie - in English braggadocio or swank - has the same high musical level. Just as in the other songs there are some sharp and rough parts with a number of instruments playing together, but sometimes there's only one instrument in the centre playing a solo. This time it's a drum and percussion solo by Daniel Renault. Le Voyageur Egaré Se Noie Incognito is a short song having the clarinet as the leading instrument. Casablanca again sounds oriental; Lapouge touches his guitar with great feeling while in the background the clarinet is swinging around the guitar and drums.
This album contains outstanding jazz rock music played by excellent musicians. So, if you like to listen to music of Weather Report, Hatfield And The North and Soft Machine and you're into something experimental and new, you should give Live 83 a chance. It won't disappoint you.
***+ Cor Smeets (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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