gilbert artman

About Gilbert Artman and Lard Free

A creation of visionary drummer/keyboardist/saxophonist Gilbert Artman who had previously been playing in a free jazz ensemble called Operation Rhino, Lard Free released three albums during the seventies on which they tried to integrate jazz, rock, free form improvisation, and electronic music.

LARD FREE was Gilbert Artman's project much the same way that HELDON was Richard Pinhas's project. Both groups hold many common points namely highly experimental but yet accessible music that can be likened to Krautrock, a good understanding of minimalist music such as TERRY RILEY, constant personnel changes and the same musical influences namely CAN, ENO and Robert FRIPP.

Their self-titled first album released in 1973, is a melting pot of all these elements, although the jazz-rock element dominates. It is full of great spacey rock with searing guitars, superb drumming and great sax and bass playing."Hard to compare to anyone else, but the music sounds somewhat similar to Miles Davis on "Bitches Brew". The album starts with "Warinobaril": the music is led by a slow, deep groove on bass guitar. A bit later, stretched out saxophone leads set in and are sustained for some LARD FREE 1time; eventually a heavily distorted electric guitar crashes into the music. The second track of the album is dominated by pulsating synthesizers that go slowly, but ultimately completely, out of control. In the background a jazzy saxophone provides a strange counterbalance to the squeaking synthesizers in the front. About halfway, the mood suddenly changes and we are again in experimental jazz-rock territory with a rather "free" guitar solo. The rest of the album continues in a similar vein as the first two tracks: synth drones are intertwined with 70s jazz-rock. Check out the lazy groove that pervades "Acide Framboise": it sounds like weird electronic funk from another galaxy. All in all, a captivating and original debut album."
"Lard Free's debut is stunning, full of energy and deeply enjoyable. If you can picture Sabbath's Geezer Butler (first two albums) playing with King Fripp, Brian Eno and maybe a less virtuoso Bruford making an album , you might have an idea of what this album sounds like. Sometimes the Eno/Fripp influences are overpowering the rest of the influences but this is relatively minor. Those long instumental tracks rolling around a superb bass and repetitive drumming is simply fascinating, may sound to some as jams but not quite as this is more to do with minimalism."

On the second album, "I Am Around About Midnight" (1975), the music had become significantly moreLARD FREE 2 electronic at the expense of the jazz-rock influences. "The opening track, "Violez l'Espace de Son Refrigerant", reminds me of the otherwordly soundscapes of early Tangerine Dream albums like "Zeit" and "Atem". The album sounds more like a long suite, where subtle accents provided by vibes, electric guitar, and percussion fade in and fade out to support the icy sounding sythesizers. The closest comparison would be early Heldon (Richard Pinhas joins the band on guitar here), but Lard Free's approach is more interesting in my opinion. The spacey and sparse music recalls images of wide panoramas, endless steps, or if you wish, cosmic travel through vast areas of emptiness. A mesmerizing classic from the seventies French scene." "One cannot help to think of minimalism German master Faust when listening to the Alambic track with their repetitive synths and Tangerine Dream phasers in the background leading you with no definite boundary into the Bakestan track where an Oldfield-like piano and flute take over. Still with no clear track ending we are now lead by a sonar noise (much like Floyd in Echoes) into Taktooz and haunting ambiances lead you in Pale Violence with its booming bass. the CD finishes off with an eastren-sounding piano-led track."

The third album "Spirale Malax" (1977) is even more electronic, with the complete absence of the jazz rock aspect. "It is yet even more Krautrock sounding and can be likened to some of the best TANGERINE DREAM albums of that era". "Spirale Malax is their most experimental and unconventional album. It is based on dark and detached sounding musical structures extracted from a variety of keyboards and further enhanced by distorted, Frippian guitar lines. At first hearing, the album may sound a bit cold and uninviting, but there is a compelling urgency to the music. Again the best comparison would be Heldon, although Heldon's later albums would be the best reference point for Spirale Malax. An essential album if you like experimental electronic music."

"Along with the original releases discussed above, the French label Spalax also posthumouslylard free 4 released "Unnamed", an album of material that was recorded around 1971 & 1972. It is an interesting mix of late sixties free jazz, early seventies jazz rock (Miles Davis, Soft Machine), and semi-improvisational free rock with a slightly psychedelic sensibility. Lots of ghostly sounding vibraphone solos, stuttering saxophone outbursts and freaky jazz guitar runs can be heard. "Petit Tripou du Matin" seems to have vague ethnic influences with its raga-ish sounding."
" This disc shows the band in yet another totally different mood this time close to RIO. Some real explicit moments and the music slaps you musically around a few times before you understand what is happening to you."  "Compared to the later Lard Free, however, it’s fairly conventional, even if not conventional alone by normal people’s standards. ‘Gilbert Artman’s Lard Free’, with it’s big glistening knife piercing the clouds on the front cover painting, is a different and more (experi)mental kettle of fish."
"Handling not only drums but also vibes and piano, Artman is accompanied here by Hervé Eyhani on bass and ARP synth, Philippe Bolliet on saxes and psycho guitarist François Mativet. Their faces are arranged on the inside cover, but with empty pink voids where their eyes should be. These guys are clearly on a different frequency and this album sounds overall like nothing else."