Richard Pinhas - Iceland. 1979 France

As one can probably guess by knowing nothing more than my avatar, I'm a huge Heldon fan. They were one of my initial discoveries when first digging deep into the European underground of the 70s. It was 1985 and I was all of 20, at quite the impressionable age I might add. So Heldon is one of those bands that helped shaped my tastes in music for the future.

However, Richard Pinhas' solo works didn't have the same impact on me as his band proper, even though he was the undisputed leader of the group. In this way he deviates considerably from, say, Edgar Froese and his comparable solo efforts to Tangerine Dream. Until recent times, the only two Pinhas albums I kept from the 80s were Chronolyse (where side 2 is as heavy as anything Heldon ever did), and L'Ethique (a diverse but also powerful Heldon-like release). So what was the issue with the others? Well from my perspective the key to the greatness of Richard Pinhas is his ability to mix fat analog synthesizers with searing electric guitar (usually played on his trusty 1954 Gibson Les Paul).

It's this latter element that is missing greatly from Iceland. It is, as the title and everyone else's reviews suggests, a icy cold landscape of droning synthesizers and almost-industrial like percussion. Take away 'The Last Kings of Thule', especially Part 2, and the guitar is entirely absent. In effect, it's a static release, missing much of the dynamism of Pinhas' best efforts. In reflecting back as I hear the CD, the music is quite good for what it sets out to do - basically begging you to put a coat on even during a sunny summer afternoon. 'Greenland' is also a very fine electronic piece, definitely recalling Pinhas' trademark sequencer sound with a fine melody throughout. The 25 minute CD bonus track 'Wintermusic' is basically a long extension of 'Iceland (Part 3)', and if anything, is even more sterile and cold than the album proper.

Overall a mixed effort, worth owning for fans, but I'd save hearing this one until you've digested all of the Heldon's and the 2 aforementioned Pinhas solo works first.

Personal collection
CD: 2006 Captain Trip (Japan)

Mini-LP that replicates the original LP. Which like the album itself, is fairly plain in design.

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