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Jack Dupon: Demon Hardi

If I could use one word to describe the music of the French band Jack Dupon, it would be 'strange'. This is avant progressive rock that lends itself well to the RIO movement. The is music is very difficult to describe and is very eclectic so if you are into the avant-garde you should continue reading.

Not to be fooled, Jack Dupon is a band and not one individual. Hailing from France, the band includes Arnaud M'Doihoma (bass, vocals), Gregory Pozzoli (guitars, vocals), Thomas Larsen (drums, percussion, vocals) and Philippe Prebet (guitars, vocals). Their new album is called Demon Hardi and is the follow up to their debut released in 2008.

The main highlight of this disc for me is the guitar playing of Pozzoli and Prebet. While angular rhythms and discordant chords attack the listener from all possible angles there are also some pretty moments that break up the madness that is Jack Dupon. There is also a good dose of guitar infused psychedelia that works rather well in many of these songs. The one negative is the French sung vocals. They are just not very tuneful but I suppose they do suite the rather bizarre style of music. I believe a more melodic approach would have added that much more contrast to the jarring sounds found throughout the disc. That said, the humour of the band does shine through in the vocals and Frank Zappa has to be a major influence. The music of King Crimson would be another apt comparison, although not vocally.

The instrumental "Sombre traffic" is one of my favourites with an almost circus-like beginning, Eastern tinged guitar rhythms and a touch of the psychedelic. The guitar playing here is a highlight. More of that psychedelic '70s influence can be found in the hard driving "Le château de l'éléphant" where the band's playing is pretty mind-bending. The avant-prog of "Marmite" is another strong tune with razor edged guitar work adding to the quirky melody along with some tricky time sigs and various musical change ups.

The album's last song is the eclectic "Oppression" featuring off kilter grooves and guitar styles ranging from Eastern to psychedelic to intense angular jamming. The band slows down the tempo to include more melodic guitar phrasings and a languid bass line which nicely contrasts the more frenetic passages.

Aside from the vocals, which will surely be an acquired taste, this is a very good album of Zappa influenced music which should garner much attention from the avant and RIO crowds. Musically, this is exciting stuff indeed.

Track listing:
1. Le labyrinthe (9:15)
2. Jeudi poisson (10:34)
3. Sombre traffic (3:40)
4. Marmite (8:55)
5. Le château de l'éléphant (6:26)
6. Cravate (9:26)
7. Oppression (13:37)

Added: July 31st 2011
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 3352
Language: english

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Jack Dupon: Demon Hardi
Posted by Jordan Blum, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-07-31 19:46:52
My Score:

Aside from its inherent musical virtuosity, Progressive Rock is also known for its distinctive vocalists. Acts like Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Dream Theater, The Mars Volta, and The Flower Kings wouldn't be as successful or recognizable without their unique singers. Indeed, the voice(s) that accompanies the music is an integral part of the piece's overall quality, and it's with that expectation that Démon Hardi, the third LP by Jack Dupon, fails. While the compositions are interesting and impressive enough, each track is undermined by ridiculous and awkward vocals.

Jack Dupon, like the often misinterpreted Jethro Tull, is not named after one of its members. Formed in 2004 in France, the quartet consists of Arnaud M'Doihoma, Gregory Pozzoli, Thomas Larsen, and Philippe Prebet. The follow-up to 2008's L'Echelle du Desir, Démon Hardi is a lengthy exercise in combining eclectic music with embarrassing vocals; it's essentially what would happen if a spacey prog rock band was fronted by clowns.

Opener "Le Labyrinthe Du Cochon" illustrates this point perfectly. An awesome jam full of cool guitar timbres and intriguing rhythmic exploration, it's ruined by what honestly sounds like goofy interplay and vomiting. The music is almost impressive enough to get past this fault, but ultimately, the track becomes irritating. The majority of the album, including "La Marmite Du Pygmée," "Le Château De L'éléphant," and "Cravate Sauvage," sounds like this and thus suffers the same fate (though "Cravate Sauvage" earns some points for conceptually tying back into "Labyrinthe"). It's a real shame.

Jack Dupon reminds me of Polish rockers SBB—both acts combine decent (at best) music with ridiculous vocals. And it's not the accents or different languages that create the problems; the silliness within the performance detracts from respectability of the serious music. In essence, for its next release, Jack Dupon should either focus on stronger melodies and singing or implement more wackiness into the music. Démon Hardi juxtaposes two elements that don't go together well, and that makes it a failure.

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