There were obviously a few sensible people left in the mainstream music industry in 1977, proven by the fact that a major label like Philips signed and released the mainly instrumental French progressive rock band Artcane that year. The music on their debut "Odyssee" was so unfashionable as it probably could be for its time, but the band and even the label rightfully didn't seem to give a damn. The opening title-track is a short but excellent piece that shows guitarist Jack Mlynski and keyboardist Alain Coupel as the most defining elements of Artcane's sound. They complement each other very well, and this track is one of the best examples of that. The next track "Le Chant D'Orphee" is one of their few with vocals. The vocal-style is quite typical for a French progressive rock band, going from narrative quiet parts to more dramatic and powerful singing. This track also goes mostly instrumental after a few minutes, entering an effective passage with lots of spiralling, looping synths blended with wordless vocal-harmonies and a few atmospheric sounds from Mlynski before climaxing into a heavy finale reminiscent of King Crimson in their era from "Lark's Tongues in Aspic" to "Red". And the King Crimson influences definitively continue when the album returns to completely instrumental ground again in the 9-minute "Novembre". Not only is Mlynski's sound and style very similar to Robert Fripp, but also the rhythmic chords sound often as if they're partly borrowed from Fripp. These are overlaid by melodic themes played on Coupel's tasty synths, and this is what prevents the band from becoming a pure King Crimson clone on these passages. But the only place where Mlynski's obsession with Fripp goes a bit TOO far is on "25th Anniversaire" that for a short time features a riff more or less identical to one from part two of "Lark's Tongues in Aspic". The most obvious King Crimson influences are more muted on the second side, dominated by the 16-minute "Artcane I". The first minutes of it wanders around in a dreamy electronic progressive realm that slowly builds up to the main theme that is cleverly repeated in several different forms through the entire piece, occasionally relieved by some energetic jams with lots of good and inspired playing. The vocals make a brief return in the acoustic closing track "Nostalgie" that is quite untypical for the album, sounding more like Harmonium in one of their lighter moments. If you can forgive a few cases of theft from King Crimson on side one, then "Odyssee" will be well worth the effort.
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