Lard Free – III

In technical terms, Lard Free was a French prog-rock group. However, such a description is slightly oxymoronic given that the band boiled down to one man—drummer and synth specialist, Gilbert Artman—accompanied by a host of additional artists that populated the collective’s three excellent albums on a rotating basis.

And while the music may be prog, it’s only so in the loosest sense. 1977’s III, the band’s best record, is centred around a synthesizer core and owes much to the Krautrock sensibilities of Tangerine Dream and early Pink Floyd. Shades of the latter surface in spades: Plenty of organic instruments such as guitar, drums, and clarinet betray the band’s earlier jazz inflections. Add a sprinkling of Can’s harder-edged style, and you’ve got a fair summation of the outfit’s capabilities.

The new edition of III contains a 24” x 12” poster that includes (on the flip side) two sets of notes (in English and French) detailing the band’s history as well as a selection of rare photos and art. During playback, the 70s vintage sound is very audible. Caveat: The mastering lacks the dynamic clarity that characterizes modern-day audiophile pressings; there is no dramatic instrumentation that hits you in the face. What you have instead is a warm, friendly remaster with rolled-off upper frequencies that provide a unique sense of time and place, and add to the character. One could easily describe the master as “authentic.” And yes, this also means that the original mastering engineer had a fine old time panning the stereo image from the left to the right with gay abandon.

Drenched with a psychedelic fugue, hypnotic looped synth sections, and deep, dark percussive effects, III demands to be played whilst wearing flares, staring into your lava lamp, and eating questionable biscuits. Fire it up. –Paul Rigby

Wah Wah, LP