Sometimes an album gets a second chance. For whatever reason when it initially came out it might not have hit the right note. Music can be cyclical though. What didn’t work at first might work many years later. ‘Heliograms’ is such a piece. Released in 1982 to minimal attention it languished. Thankfully now with the resurgence of interest in this sort of expansive music I’m glad it is once more going to see the light of day.
Jean starts out quite slow with his methods. The pieces are nearly classical in nature. For the first two pieces they veer close to drone-like in nature. Definitely there are hints of the entire sounds other groups would explore later on in the 80s, groups like Zoviet France and Illusion of Safety. ‘Ange’ creates a rather uneasy soundscape, just deftly avoiding ambience to create something unsettling in nature. Compared to what preceded it ‘Rouge’ is rapid pace, almost machine-gun fire rapid in how quickly it goes through textures. Jean wakes us up with this piece as it pulses through playfully. This eventually decays by the end into ghostly stabs. Easily ‘Rouge’ is my favorite piece on the whole album. ‘Heliograms’ the title track ends things sounding faintly tragic, nearly depressed in nature.
Listening to this I’m reminded of the large influence such pioneers had over the many musicians we have now, musicians like Emeralds, Mark McGuire, most of the Spectrum Spools output. I’m happy to hear this once more after so many years of neglect. ‘Heliograms’ is a powerful statement years after its original release.