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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Fernand Pena et Puzzle, France



Fernand Pena et Puzzle - s/t. 1977 Centaur

It's been awhile since I added something new to the CDRWL. It's always nice to hear an obscurity that is really quite good. We have our good friend SF to thank for this entry, as he had sent me a CD-R a few months ago. About a month later, I finally dug into the disc, and was impressed with what I was hearing. As luck would have it, there happened to be a copy on ebay just as I was hearing it. As you can see from above, the cover is pretty fascinating, and I immediately determined I wanted an original LP. Even the label design is alluring! The photos above are from that auction that yours truly surprisingly managed to win. Since the seller had already done the heavy lifting regarding the photos, I figured I'll share some of them here. Credits of course go to that gentleman! The auction ended December 9th and after a few weeks (shipped from France during Christmas season), I received the LP. And then of course it took me another couple of weeks to hear the LP itself. And... being the lazy I am, here's the entry two weeks after that. Haha, such is my life.

Fernand Pena and his backing group Puzzle are one of the few bands who actually put the psych in psychedelic folk. You've heard me go on about this already, but I often question where the rock parts are in these supposed acid folk / psychedelic folk albums. A lot of this stuff isn't terribly far from my Old Man's collection (that I still possess), and his albums were pure Irish/Scottish/English/American folk music. My pop couldn't stand listening to rock music  - and yet there's plenty of the "psych folk" albums I picked up along the way that he enjoyed. Because there was no rock!

About the only group from France that Fernand Pena et Puzzle remind me of is Canelle. And as you may recall from that entry, my initial thought about them is that they were from Quebec. Perhaps Fernand Pena et Puzzle is a bit less pop/country than Canelle, and more geared toward progressive and psych. So in that light, Fernand Pena et Puzzle recall groups such as L'Engoulevent, Connivence, and Harmonium more so than the standard Brittany groups of Malicorne or Gwendal. While it's not specifically cited in the liner notes, I doubt Pena is from Breton, and thus that adds another dimension to the usual folk music coming from France. There is some really fine electric guitar work here, amongst the folk/vocal based compositions. At times it's straight rock, others it's haunting acoustic folk, and even a little bit of funky business to date it precisely at 1977. Despite the band moniker, this isn't really a solo affair, as the group Puzzle features no less than 10 members (mostly on stringed instruments).

This isn't a monster new discovery on the level of Ginga Rale Band or Rob Thomsett, but it sure is a delight to hear. If all this sounds interesting, definitely put the feelers out for a copy.

Priority: 3