Personnel: Gerard Bertram (vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar); Didier Thibaut (vocals); Maurice Helminger (flute, keyboards); Gerard Pons (drums, percussion).
Recording information: 03/08/1971-03/13/1971.
On their impressive 1971 debut, France's Moving Gelatine Plates create a unique brand of jazz-influenced progressive rock. Parts of the album are reminiscent of the music recorded by groups from England's Canterbury scene (e.g., Soft Machine), but the Moving Gelatine Plates' driving rhythms and catchy thematic shifts set the band apart from their English counterparts. Drummer Gerard Pons pulls the listener along at a frantic pace on tracks like "Gelatine" and "Last Song." With help from the growling distortion provided by guitarist Gerard Bertram, Pons keeps the album firmly grounded in rock. Maurice Helmlinger's jazzy horn work and Didier Thibault's hopping basslines provide a striking contrast to these rock underpinnings. Although most of the debut is instrumental, some vocal segments do surface. These segments, which are sung in English, are rather brief -- not surprising, since English was not the band's native language. On "London Cab," the Moving Gelatine Plates even include words from the nursery rhyme "Three Blind Mice." The lyrics on the rest of the album range from silly to cryptic, but considering the strength of the music, these shortcomings are forgivable. Overall, the Moving Gelatine Plates deliver a debut that is both intricate and engaging, two features that are absent from so much of the progressive rock from the era. ~ Andrew Helminger