Jean Cohen-Solal - Flutes Libres + Captain Tarthopom. 1971-1973 France
1971 Daphy/Sonopresse. Also released in Canada on Barclay
Jean Cohen-Solal - Captain Tarthopom. 1973 Connection/Sonopresse
CD reissue: 2003 Mio (Israel). Both albums on one CD
Release details. Flutes Libres comes in a fine heavy duty gatefold sleeve, whereas Captain Tarthopom is stored in a single jacket. Both were originally released on sub-labels of Sonopresse. The only reissue is from the excellent Israeli label Mio, and contains both albums on one CD. The sound is very good (though I hear distant vinyl noise, so I'm guessing the masters were lost) and also features unique liner notes, and a good 2003 era bonus track. This was my introduction to both albums, and comes highly recommended. Best I can tell, the CD is still widely available. A couple of years ago, I picked up the debut on LP from a European dealer for about $40. The photo above is, in fact, that copy (found it on Popsike by pure luck). The current going rate isn't much more than that, and so this is an excellent pickup for collectors of original LPs. Captain Tarthopom, on the other hand, is about double that price (or more), and I have yet to source one for the collection.
Notes: On the surface, it would appear Flutes Libres would be yet another flute jazz album that was all the rage back then. With Jean Cohen-Solal appearing in his Yankee Doodle outfit, it couldn't be more than a cash-in album of that era's greatest hits. Right? Way wrong. Flutes Libres is a dense work, bordering on the Kosmische with droning organs, and classical level flute played on top. While there are some rocked out rhythms and trendy moves looking East, in general, this is an album that will appeal to those into both experimental rock and serious avant garde music. The album is remarkably consistent, without any notable highs or lows.
It appears Cohen-Solal was conscious of the seriousness of the debut, and tried to lighten the mood with the somewhat silly opening title track on his second album Captain Tarthopom. This is followed by the sublime 'Ludions', meshing his trademark flute work with the sound of Soft Machine's Third, and is the highlight of both albums. Next track 'Ab hoc et ab hac' indicates more of the same, but then ventures back into more experimental territory, where it never leaves again. While the tracks on Captain Tarthopom are relatively compact compared to the debut, the level of experimentation remains high.
Fans of atmospheric, and perhaps even difficult, avant-garde rock will find much pleasure in both of Cohen-Solal's albums. These are not easy listens, and certainly not the kind of music that result in pleasing a crowd. But for private listening in dark rooms, the rewards are great.