I don’t remember how I first heard of Jack Dupon, a French four piece band consisting of Arnaud M'Doihoma (bass, vocals), Gregory Pozzoli (guitars, vocals), Thomas Larsen (drums, percussion, vocals) and Philippe Prebet (guitars, vocals).
I bought their 2008 debut album, "L'Echelle Du Désir", but was not too thrilled with it. It has nice ideas and it is theatrical, quirky and eccentric but I felt the songs were too meandering and lacked direction and focus. But I was still interested in seeing what they’ll do on their next album. And so I was happy to be given the opportunity to review it.
Well, I think that more than they have changed from the debut album, that I have changed and now perceive them a little differently. They do seem to be more focused this time around with their songs and even more intricate and creative, but they still maintain the same basic characteristics from the first album, which I’ll mention below.But first let me make a point.
Jack Dupon’s music seems to me to fit much better a live setting. In fact, it would probably benefit from having some kind of theatrics associated with the music, some visualization attached to the music.
Their music is theatrical and veers from the dramatic to the silly or humorous side. This theatrical aspect of theirs is reminiscent of other French progressive bands such as Ange, Arachnoid, Mona Lisa, Etron Fou Leloublan and even the more current Sebkha Chott etc.
I don’t mean that Jack Dupon sounds like any these, rather that they share this characteristic of theatrics, of an ambition to add a visual side to their music. Jack Dupon’s music sounds much less serious than these, much more cheeky and upbeat, and not half as dark. One can also draw lines of similarity in sound to others such as Frank Zappa (on all songs) and even King Crimson (Oppression for instance).
They are also quite jam-based, and they tend to have sections in their rather long songs in which the music lingers on while the guitar noodles over it or have a singing part dominate it.
But this varies, as at times the music can be more abstract allowing for the vocals to take charge, while at other times the melody is leading the way, supported by the whole lineup.
When I mention the jamming, I don’t mean there is monotony or that it is boring. Their antics, which include the singing, and their occasional change of direction in the songs, keep matters interesting. But at times it can seem to linger on a bit longer than I would have liked.
It sounds to me as if for the most part they don’t intend so much on developing a theme, rather on creating a story and they do this by creating an atmosphere and introducing into it their quirkiness, their humorous lyrics, employment of various types of voices and their dramatic theatrical presentation.
And while that is their forte, this is also the downside for me. Many times it feels that they don’t develop themes or ideas too much and rather linger with the theme on. They certainly have a penchant for long song with not much variety within it, keeping the same pace while the guitar is the instrument being given the most independence to roam free; at times it sounds more like jams.
All this makes me think that this group is much better experienced live than through an album. And given the responses I read for some of their shows, this may very well be the case.
I would have loved to hear more of what they did on the middle part of the opening song, “Le Labyrinthe”, where they spice up matters and introduce some intricacy and development to the song structure and deviate a bit from the main theme.
Another song I liked in particular was the closing song, “Oppression”, with its Crimsonesque rhythm guitar a-la Red painting the main thread throughout the first section of the song and the embellishments of the second guitar. The music itself, while repetitive, has a hypnotic characteristic to it and few lyrics that are repeated as well. The song itself is split into very different sounding sections: the opening harsh sounding rock part, a second jazzy part that develops into quite a different sounding instrumental rock segment than the rest of the album. This then develops very naturally and eventually, in a very intricate manner, returns to the original theme.
In summary, I find this album to be an improvement from their first release. It still demonstrates their basic penchant for theatrics, humour and jamming while exhibiting their creative, eccentric and progressive side. Do check it out.