Heldon is an all-instrumental electro-obsessed frogressive rock band helmed by
Robert Fripp Richard Pinhas. Yes, Richie’s guitar playing may sound familiar if one has heard the work of a certain stuffy British axe-wielder, but his music is quite different. That is, while they both traffic in a certain kind of doomsday avant-prog, they perceive this doomsday very differently. Where King Crimson exists largely in an abstract, internal world, Heldon’s apocalypse is urban, technological, industrial, etc. Not exactly unique, but thankfully, we aren’t subjected to any cliché lyrics on the subject—just pure music, and pretty unique music at that.
Lineup: Richard Pinhas: guitars, electronics. Patrick Gauthier: moog bass and mini-moog. François Auger: drums, percussion, synthesizers, synthesized percussion.
This thing is sci-fi and proud of it, from the rhinestone-lipped alien lady on the cover to the super-dated “computer” text of the title to the title itself. And there there are song titles such as “The Green Flying Saucers” and “The Return of the Flying Saucers” and “Son of the [Green] Flying Saucers” (translations courtesy of my feeble command of French.)
Computers were hot shit back in 1977 and these guys planned to get in on the ground floor. Their “industrial fusion” brand of avant-prog is out in full force on this LP, with the 19 minute title track making a strong case for being the final word on the matter. Approximately half of the sound of the track is a labyrinth of synthesized loops; the other half is the live band writhing and thrashing in their midst like a freshly crushed cockroach. The soundscape grows from tinny phased thumps into a hideous, gorgeous maelstrom and then fades out into a hilariously random blooze-rock ending. Pinhas roars out his usual Frippian licks, but let it it never be said that the man isn’t a good student.
The rest of the album can’t help but feel a bit like a warmup for side two, testing out various individual aspects of the band’s sound. Pinhas’ “Jet Girl’ is a sparse, slow-burning track that gets mired somewhere in its 8 minute length, and the various two-minute “Flying Saucer’ tracks are groovy but a bit undeveloped. The exception is Auger’s two-part “Bal-A-Fou”, whose second half is an intriguing stab at a bouncier, more alien variant on the band’s sound. There are duelling Moogs and unsettlingly shiny synth chords and Didier Batard guest-stars on bass—why, it’s very nearly something that could almost be danceable!