Throughout the 1970s, the French progressive group Heldon released seven great-to-essential albums. Their 1975 sophomore album, Allez-Téia, captures Heldon during a phase when they were more about lofty hovering ambience than the infernal propulsion and dystopian nightmare visions that would mark their last few full-lengths. Throughout Allez-Téia's seven tracks, there exists a scintillating contrast between otherworldly synths and Mellotron and earthy acoustic and electric guitars. "In the Wake of King Fripp" is a gorgeous tapestry of those instruments paying tribute to Heldon leader Richard Pinhas's foremost influence: King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp. Pinhas and Georges Grunblatt capture the Frippian muse in its most majestic and serene state, in the vein of Fripp's classic ambient LP with Brian Eno, Evening Star (which also came out in '75). "Aphanisis" features guest Alain Renaud and Grunblatt on acoustic guitars, their exquisitely filigreed melodies spangling and frolicking with delicate panache. It's ideal for Sunday morning contemplation. Dedicated to Fripp and Eno, "Omar Diop Blondin" tips another plectrum toward Evening Star, as Alain Bellaiche and Pinhas duet on guitars: One growls in gentle agony, the other undulates with a mesmerizing oceanic drag. "St-Mikael Samstag Am Abends" exemplifies the album's dichotomy: It begins with gaseous space-ship emissions droning into infinity and then segues into a tintinnabulating guitar part that recalls Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Born on the Bayou," of all things. With their motor-revving bass tones and manic pressure-cooker vibes, "Moebius" and "Fluence" hint at Heldon's late-era mental machine music. "Michel Ettori" closes Allez-Téia with a gilded pastoral folk ramble on acoustic guitars, lulling you into a stoned reverie. It's the kind of thing modern players like Steve Gunn and Ryley Walker aspire to. Today's musicians are still catching up to Heldon. DAVE SEGAL
The Hooded Pink Falcon
Like Russell Wilson, Screens are a dual threat. On The Hooded Pink Falcon EP, the West Seattle band shows it can play both easy-listening electro-pop and experimental space-funk at the same damn time. They accomplish this feat by sending pillowy digital effects to orbit around their soft vocal melodies, hitting the bass thrusters, and gliding to Groove Central Station.
Individually, the musicians are excellent role players: effective in their restraint, yet slyly technical—all the while, singer Allison Tulloss sneaks in near-epic-length poetry (opener "Netherlandia" clocks in at almost 500 words on the lyric sheet), sometimes sung in her wispy, low-key soprano, sometimes rolled out in cleverly devised robot raps. Wacky-great lyrics like "Replace your favorite picture from childhood/With pseudo-genetic/Grown-up synthesis" ("Machine") and supplementary background effects coat their more terrestrial rock numbers in space dust, pushing them well past ordinary.
It's their freakiest numbers that shimmer the most, though. "Dexify"—which involves drummer Doug Port taking the mic to say "Paris, France, in your pants," among other things, in a delightfully creepy falsetto—soars to trippy heights. Also lobbying for top jam is "Night Controller," which could anchor the soundtrack of a Dazed and Confused redux if the film ended with Mitch Kramer dropping acid at junior prom. TODD HAMM
Wait 'Til Night
Look here: Cooly G is trying to get laid. After the romantic trials and tribulations outlined in the UK bass maven's funky debut, Playin' Me, G's done playing around and ready to seal the fucking deal. Largely abandoning the UK garage-/house-influenced sound of Playin,' Wait 'Til Night comes off as her attempt at a futuristic R&B crossover album. Sadly, the album as a whole fails to fulfill the promise of either dance-floor dominance or bedroom bona fides: For a sex record, it comes off a bit (excuse me) limp.
Some of the problem may lie in the sequencing. Cooly G's decided to frontload the album in a bad way: Kicking it off are no less than a half-dozen cuts with little to differentiate them, all cookie-cutter come-ons and formless song structures, a half-baked run that confuses lack of forward momentum for foreplay.
Thankfully, beginning with "A Quick Question," things begin to take on a more discernible shape. Instead of languid pads and shiftless rhythms, Cooly outfits the latter tracks with inky black bass, Timbaland-referencing strings, and Rhodes keyboards. Her lyrics, too, gain a newfound forwardness, recalling Tricky at his paranoiac, ambiguously dangerous/erotic best.
Unfortunately, it's a case of too little, too late. It's a shame, because there are hints of a hauntingly original take on modern pop music here. Cooly G's left with a choice: go all in on her pop leanings or return to the club sound that garnered her so much attention in the first place. Turns out, waiting truly is the hardest part. KYLE FLECK