Anthology is going above and beyond with a massive reissue of early ’70s albums from French progressive artist Catherine Ribeiro. The singular vocalist had an uncompromising vision of psychedelic folk that saw her progress over this three album arc from baroque, yet semi-grounded folk to a wildly experimental set that would send most Krautrock heads spinning. The artist began her trajectory on film, appearing in Spaghetti Westerns and, notably, netting a part in Jean Luc Godard’s Les Carabiniers. Acting put her in contact with creatives that started her down a musical path and by 1969 she was carving out a space with the help of Patrice Moullet, who backed her first record with his band 2Bis. By the time her follow up rolls around the band had morphed to become Les Alpes, and thus began this period of fruitful collaboration.
Ribeiro’s voice is truly the star of her albums, strong and unyielding, its a true force of nature. She’s often been compared to Brigitte Fontaine and shares similarities with Nico and Buffy St. Marie. Her work over the course of N°2, Ame Debout, and Paix wound darker and more complex with each year. N°2 is mostly just Moullet and Denis Cohen (percussion, organ) backing her up. With each ablum, as they gain confidence in their vision, Les Alpes begins to take on bigger and more varied forms, though. Ame Debout picks up some motorik steam, locking rhythms to anguished violin and wild flights of ambient sound. The band gets more of a role here, even taking on a couple of instrumental tracks that aren’t dominated by Ribeiro’s powerful sway. The album is the most in flux, shedding Ribeiro’s beginnings, but not fully in command of what would come next.
By the time the band rolls into ’73’s Paix they’ve left the normal constraints of folk behind, working into 15 minute lengths and pushing the idea of song further from the digestible single than ever before. Paix is truly the band’s Zenith, tough its remarkable to see how they built towards this exploratory sound over the past two albums. As a box set the trio works to dissect how Ribeiro and Moullet worked off of one another and pushed each other to get outside of the mindset of French pop music entirely. If you have the time for the deep dive, then all three are worth a visit, but if you must cut to the core, Paix is where Ribeiro makes her mark for the ages. This is an excellent collection of an artist truly deserving of a retrospective.
Support the artist. Buy it HERE.