Hydravion - Stratos Airlines. 1979 France
CD reissue: 2016 Purple Pyramid (USA 4 CD OAS)
Hydravion's second album is probably one of the most misunderstood albums one can find. Of course, the cover art contributes greatly to buyer confusion. On first glance, one can be forgiven to think this to be yet another late 70s Parisian coke filled disco party extravaganza. Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir? And then the opening misspelled 'Passadena Airport', with its repetitive beat, seems to feed the bias, leaving only the most dedicated listener to persevere. Once 'Telecom' begins though, suddenly the party is over, and the nightmarish world of Philippe Besombes begins. The French narration of 'Ligne Equateur' takes you further down the dark tunnel where it lands at the album's high water mark: The one-two punch of 'Carolyn Sud' and 'Santander'. Here we're as close to Heldon's Interface as any mere mortal will ever get. The positively haunting closer, with its biting psychedelic guitar, leaves a lasting mark on a truly great piece of art.
Perhaps had they named the album Stratospherique, with a Hipgnosis cover similar to the first, would the album be held in higher esteem today. Blame the marketing department.
The only CD is on the Philippe Besombes 4 CD set Anthology. On close listen, I believe this title is also taken from vinyl, though not near as obvious as the debut album. As is the case with that album, I have no intention of selling my Carrere LP, that I first purchased in 1988(!)