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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Jean-Michel Desbouis, France

Jean-Michel Desbouis - Prince. 1982 FLVM.

Here's another album, like the US band Window that we reported on this past summer, where I had a cassette for many years which contained almost no info, and thus I couldn't corroborate any of the data. So I never added it to the CDRWL. For all I knew it was a demo of some sort that never was released.

The cassette was simply labeled: Prince [1986 France]. Gnosis had the same title as me (Prince - s/t. 1986), now since adjusted. RYM currently has a Prince listed as 1977 without a cover. It looks all the world to be this album. They also had the Desbouis album listed, but without a rating until now.

How did we get here? Well, another submission from the king of treasure hunters: The AC. My eyes perked up as soon as I saw it. I wonder if...? I mentioned it to him about my suspicion. As always, he had a thoughtful response, that gives a very reasonable explanation towards the confusion. "It's quite possible that both of these mystery albums you mentioned are actually the Desbouis album. The whole presentation of this LP is bound to cause confusion. The front cover has absolutely no text on it, while the back cover is basically the same as the front, but with just "Prince" printed on the top. Only the insert has any information on it, but it only lists the track titles and musicians. There's no release date printed anywhere on the LP. I knew from the sound, style and place of origin that it was probably an early 80s album, but I couldn't be certain until I found Desbouis' own Myspace page, which confirms that it was recorded in late '81 and released in '82. As I mentioned in my notes, this is definitely one of the rarest of these French electronic prog LPs, so I could certainly envision a scenario where years back some prog fan finds the LP, but it's missing the insert. It then enters into circulation via tape trading, with no real information other than that it's called "Prince"... ...This would also explain why, aside from the fact that it's always been very hard to find to begin with, that it's remained so obscure. Because if people really knew that it had Stella Vander singing on it, I'm sure it would have been a much better known item in the prog underground for years now, due to the general obsession with all things Magma. It's only a theory, but if these other albums you mentioned do indeed turn out to be one and the same, it could be a plausible explanation." (BTW I feel obligated to say this: This note wasn't even written with publication in mind - and just shows you the depth of his writing/cognitive skills. I know he won't mind me sharing.)

So after hearing the album and then doing a quick comparison. YEP! They're the same!

So let's get to The AC's album notes: "Extremely obscure French electronic prog album, and quite similar to other efforts of this type from the late 70s/early 80s underground scene. The main difference here is that none other than Stella Vander is on board to provide vocals on some of the tracks, which is a very nice addition. The whole album has a sort of floating, spacey vibe that's somewhat trance-inducing. It's high quality stuff, and definitely recommended to fans of the genre. Unfortunately, it's also one of the rarest LPs of this kind. Desbouis had previously played in a band named Aum, and is still musically active to this day. You can check out his current project on Myspace, and be sure to scroll down the page a bit for some cool pictures of Stella, himself and all of that great vintage synth gear taken during the recording of this album." He included the MySpace link as well.

There's not much else I can add here. The female vocals from Stella add an otherworldly vibe to the very professional electronic soundscapes and sequences. Definitely recommended to fans of French and German electronic music.

Priority: 3

Thanks to SF for the additional scans!


Anonymous said...


Appears to be a soundclip for the Prince Project here.


Tom said...

Hey Wallace. Long time! How's things at the Zoo? You reminded me to check in.

Thanks for the comment.

- Tom

strawbsfan said...

Wow! The AC strikes again...what a treasure! As always love those comments and stories...keep them coming :)
Thanks a million

Tristan Stefan said...

you know, I've had this as 'prince' as well and guessed it was from the early eighties, and I've listened to it many times in the last few years, without realizing the beautiful female singer was of course stella, of whom I'm a huge fan!! thanks for pointing out the story behind this huge gem. I do hope it gets released properly, perhaps by musea?

Tom said...

Hi Tristan Stefan,

Good to hear from you. Great reviews over at Prog Not Frog! You have a couple over there I need to pull down as well that I've never even heard of. If I can ever get out from under this stack, I'm going too!

I wish Musea would get back into cool reissues. Maybe our best bet is Soleil Zeuhl and only because of the Stella Vander connection. I hope so! Frances Grosse was in touch with me about a year ago and looking to start up again, but it seems to fallen by the wayside (sigh).

Thanks for the comment!

- Tom

Tristan Stefan said...

looks like we've been playing "blog-tag" for some time... of course as you've noticed we've used your reviews as a touchstone for what to seek out in a lot of cases.