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Jean Yves Labat – M. Frog (1973) [Japanese Remastered Edition 2007]

24-11-2015, 00:13
Music | Rock | FLAC / APE

Title: M. Frog
Year Of Release: 2007 [1973]
Label: Victor [VICP-63733]
Genre: Prog Rock, Electronic
Quality: FLAC (tracks +.cue,log,scans)
Total Time: 36:14 min
Total Size: 227 mb

In the days before Plastic Bertrand's "Ca Plan Pour Moi" and Devo, there was the Todd Rundgren recruit Jean Yves Labat (aka M. Frog Labat) -- not the M of "Pop Muzik" fame (who would come six years later). For sheer experimentation it is commendable that Bearsville/Warner Bros. would put out this fun, synthesized exercise. Recorded between May 4-May 20, 1973, and produced by the keyboardist (who holds a real amphibian in his hand on the back cover photo), it is "Tubular Bells" in need of an Exorcist film to get some kind of recognition. There are seven expensive and unbelievable pages of glossy paper which include Jim Rooney's extensive liner notes and biographical material on Labat. At times it is more interesting than this music, which is in search of its own riff and genre. The pages have Labat's "notation for synthesizer music which works through colors" -- a dizzying array of forms and shapes inside graphs using a written fusion of material from "physics books, wave lengths, the color spectrum" -- essentially, he's created sheet music for the synthesizer. Decades later, the noble effort that didn't catch on is an interesting artifact of the time. It sounds better than the incessant beat of latter-day "house music" and rap, which could have benefited had those formats discovered this solid foundation, but as a musical work it succeeds more as a textbook than anything else. The problem is that there is no one tune like "Moving in Stereo" from the Cars, which takes Greg Hawkes' innovations and lets them flourish inside a commercial vehicle, no pun intended. M. Frog is interesting, boundary-pushing, and amusing. It's a project worth investigating, though it missed the mark. Had he infused just a bit more of the Gregorian chant style that slips in (from his time at a Benedictine monastery), a somewhat soothing "Relax Goliath" might have broken out of its Edgar Froese/Kraftwerk malaise and obtained some serious FM airplay. It just needed those voices in robes to bring it home. Titles like "Monkey People" and "Champegarpaen" prove that the synthesizer was fun as an instrument of exploration. The "We Are Crazy" instrumental which opens side two might have given that other M a run for his money. Columbus sailing through the blue is more fun than studying pioneering computer text, and inevitably "sheet music" for computers is less easy to understand than hieroglyphics. Bob Moog may have created the instrument to be like a theramin, something dependent on chance and random emotions, steering without a map. M. Frog Labat attempts to watch the melodies fall like dominoes, capture the butterflies, and put them into a traditional setting like sheet music. He gets so serious that he takes some of the fun out of it. When it is frivolous it works best, and perhaps the great liner notes and "sheet music" were all in jest! M. Frog is a Wendy Carlos album without the familiar structure -- the Switched on Bach of the underground.


1 We Are Crazy 2:54
2 Champegarpaen 4:59
3 Takatykitakite 2:42
4 Suckling-Pigs Game 3:25
5 Broushneik 2:26
6 Amphibian Chaff 0:57
7 We Are Crazy (Instrumental) 3:16
8 Hey Little Lady 3:31
9 Monkey People 2:36
10 Welcome Home 2:59
11 Relax Goliath 6:14

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