Besombes-Rizet - Pôle (1975), 7/10

Pôle was incredibly ahead of its time, painting an atmosphere that is staggering. The sheer amount of delightful yet new sounds mixed with simply beautiful arrangements is incredible and carries through the entire track list. The improvisation laced ambience introduced on “Haute pression” and its percussive emphasis set the tone perfectly for the experiments to come. There is already an inherent ‘space prog’ feel in its synths and swaying voices, and this motif is expanded upon repeatedly in the coming tracks. The improvisation itself appropriately rotates between eerie modes of both caress and battering, splitting the melody down its central seam only to cyclically return to its original foundation before departing again. The eerie yet endearing modulation becomes a theme that will keep you absorbed through even the most droning phrases, along with the powerful crescendos as walls of noise under its accompanying climbing and falling synthesizers. Then the energy welcomely dissipates during “Evelyse” and its tribal, more dutifully ambient winds. Then a reintroducing of theatre in "Armature Double" in the form of a consistent synthetic desolation infused with very intimate, delicate improvisation preceding true avant-garde ambient synth experimentation during its second half. Then things get energetic and jazzy during "Lundi Matin", a clear influence of fusion and its inherent aesthetics trumping the album’s own; this is both a strength in the track as a standalone narrative and a weakness from an album progression perspective. Then an even further yet more successful exploration of fusion during “Montélimar”, even incorporating Afro-Cuban influences once again. Then a fittingly grand closer in "Synthi Soit-il", a sprawling, self-contained saga akin to Sun Ra’s Atlantis. In the end Pôle is both propelled forward and held back by its mingling in a horde of ambient and fusion schools, but remains a predominant force in progressive electronic music.