It would be almost a score to David Lynch or one of the Italian Giallo films from the late ‘70s/early ‘80s by the master himself Lucio Fulci. For Rock in Opposition group, Present, their follow up to Triskaidekaphobie, would also be their last and final album (Le Poison Qui Rend Fou) that was originally released in 1985 and this 2-CD set shows the darker magic and brilliant force on here like no other! The title was inspired by Herge’s Tintin comic book series, Cigars of the Pharaoh and Trigaux himself wanted to pay tribute to the master from his childhood.
The opening 15-minute title track begins with this roaring Fripp-sque guitar introduction that Roger himself does along with the atonal chords done by Alain Rochette before they get down to business with the difficult time signatures followed by the operatic vocals of Marie-Anne Polaris that resembles the Zeuhl influences of Magma and very much straight out of Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels along with thumping and doomy bass lines done by Ferdinand Philippot. It is sinister, intense, haunting and ominous as well as you could tell which direction the band goes into by Roger’s conducting and he’s letting them know which time movement or instrument should come next to give it that shivering goosebumping surrounding moment to make the hair on the back of your arm raise up.
The track closes for the last 3 minutes as Rochette goes into this Schoenberg-like piano piece as Trigaux comes in along with Daniel Denis as well to give it that climatic finale. Ersatz is very much almost militant thanks to Denis drumming workout and Trigaux’s virtuoso is jaw-dropping as he goes through the frets and those odd time changes along with the stop-and-go moments can really come in handy as it segues back into the second part of Le Poison Qui Rend Fou.
The second part is called Didi, Dans Ta Chambre! Trigaux is all over the place with his guitar. He makes it screech and shriek at moments the Synth and percussion along with the piano go into the room with the different pieces and its insane at times while they go into the King Crimson Red-era by paying tribute to the album as if the two-part suite could have been a part of the sessions along with Dave Brubeck’s Take Five for a brief moment as well. It cavernous and in your face as well and shows that Present can give the listener the shocking and jaw-dropping moments an unexpected moment.
The closing track Samana is a calming after the storm at first. It has this atmospheric avant-experimental touch to it, but with a dosage of chamber music and neoclassical vibes to it. The second disc is a live performance that the band did at Livry-Gargan on January 23, 1982 in which it is a commune in the northeastern side of France and it’s amazing listening to the group’s performance live. You could imagine being in the audience, blown away of watching these amazing musicians really going to give the most mind-blowing performances that they are giving.
On the first disc, is a Quicktime video of the band’s rare performance around in 1981, in which there are only three clips of the performance in Paris. And I’ll admit it’s not the best quality, more like a "B" graded quality of the footage if you will, however it is very wonderful chance of seeing the group just taking different turns and seeing the band for yourself on your very own Computer. I have listened to Le Poison Qui Rend Fou about five times now and alongside their debut album, Triskaidekaphobie, I’m completely hooked into their music and Cuneiform Records have done a superb job reissuing these amazing albums and I’ve suddenly now become a huge Present fan. I will look into more of the Cuneiform catalog in the near future and see what kind of magic they have up their sleeves for me.