As you've probably guessed from the title, Musique Noise were a French group. They recorded this sole album in 1988 and didn't release it on compact disc until recently. Musea Records give a typically splendid treatment with regard to packaging and liner notes, attempting to put the band's past into perspective.
Along with the album proper are four bonus tracks, which the band recorded in 1992, when they briefly reformed. Taking their cue from Magma, circa Mechanik Destruktiw Kommandoh, Musique Noise weren't quite the aural assault one would expect given their name. Though they included a large ensemble of players with a brass section, they never quite achieved the same dizzying heights of intensity as Magma; very few "Zeuhl" influenced bands ever do. Take for example the opening track "Pas Encore". Over a jazzy and arrhythmic arrangement, Musique Noise's choral section offer up passages that evoke a very lite Magma. But whereas Stella Vander and company could scare the rats out of a cellar with their relentlessly frightening repetitious chanting, the vocals on "Pas Encore" are simply too friendly, perhaps even slightly forced. You might think of Musique Noise as A Beginner's Guide to Zeuhl Music.
Admittedly, when the singing stops, the instrumental sections can be quite rewarding, as on "Unique au Monde". Those vocal passages are at it again and can be downright grating until sax player Simon Bot Ban Jok lets loose with some nice soloing. Keyboardist Xavier De Raymond similarly offers some very good synthesizer solos as well, giving the band a symphonic rock touch that was never present in Magma.
Surprisingly, the songs I enjoyed most are the four bonus tracks. Recorded for a brief reunion in 1992, they hint at a stronger, darker and more confident Musique Noise. Even the vocals are more in tune with the complex music. Despite the dodgy sound quality, these songs actually make for compelling listening. Unfortunately, the newer and more focused direction wasn't meant to last and the group split up shortly after. This is too bad as given more time to grow, Musique Noise might have really given Magmaphiles something to get excited about. Too bad that the band's legacy will be that of a footnote in the world of progressive music.