VOLAPÜK

Guigou Chenevier - Percusionist
Guillaume Saurel - Cello
Michel Mandel - Clarinete Bajo

    Formed in Southern France in 1993, Volapük is a trio of drums, bass clarinet and cello. The band's members use their instruments in expanded roles, creating unusual tonal colors. Its music blends ensemble play, jazz and chamber music with a solid rock underpinning. Volapük's first release, Tiger Fire, was released by Cuneiform in 1995. Its second album, Slang!, was issued by Cuneiform in 1997. In 1999 Cuneiform issued yet another of their albums, Polyglot.
    Volapük's percussionist, Guigou Chenevier, was a founder in 1973 of Etron Fou Leloublan, a charter member of Rock In Opposition. Etron Fou recorded six albums between 1976 and 1985, touring Europe repeatedly and the United States three times. Chenevier has recorded three solo albums and two releases with Les Batteries, a drum with Rick Brown. He recorded with Fred Frith on the latter's Speechless album, and on Morgan Fisher's Miniatures compilation.
    Bass clarinetist Michel Mandel received a Masters Degree in music from the Grenoble Academy of Music. He has played in numerous musical and theatrical settings in italy, France, Germany and Hungary.
    Cellist Guillaume Saurel studied at the Avignon Academy of Music. He has performed in concert and on several recordings, and has played music for dance and theatre throughout France.


1. Le Feu du Tigre

    This first release by the Volapuk trio finds the group in top form. These guys are pros, after all, with drummer and leader Guigou Chenevier already a Rock in Opposition veteran with numerous recordings as a member of Etron Fou Leloublan, and the two other group members, Guillaume Aurel on cello and Michel Mandel on bass clarinet, both with substantial classical training and performance experience.

    However, this CD is transitional, in that it displays a strong art rock and classical influence at times, as well as a substantial jazz element, especially in Mandel's clarinet work. Pieces like "El Sombrero," for example, are very much in the Rock in Opposition mold, with tricky time signatures, repetitive riffs, and the eventual appearance of Mandel's earthy clarinet, wailing over the top. Later CDs by the group will display a greater ethnic content, and perhaps a more natural integration of musical elements, but this is nonetheless a dynamic and confident recording, anchored by Chenevier's inventive and propulsive drumming

1. Le Fue du Tigre (Volapuk) - 2:36
2. We Can - 3:47
3. Coca Cola - 3:57
4. Bach Is Back - 4:49
5. Des Objects de la Plus Grande Importance - 3:33
6. Pil Poil - :36
7. La 7e Nuit - 5:55
8. Aimables Innommables - 1:22
9. Meldola - 1:44
10. Catafalque - 5:29
11. A Cion - 1:04
12. Chandelle Verte - 4:00
13. El Sombrero - 4:23
14. C'Est la Crise! - 1:53
15. Brooklyn Bridge - 1:17
2. Slang!

    Volapuk's music is substantial, and does not fall prey to the pretensions of many so-called avant-garde combos. This French trio, led by the founder of the progressive rock group Etron Fou Leloublan, plays compositions that are succinct and well orchestrated. Utilizing percussion, bass clarinet, and cello, Volapuk's chamber-like music is multi-textural and colorful, dancing along a tightrope between simplicity and complexity. At times the music conjures images of a Middle Eastern bazaar or a gypsy caravan. Other times it would be appropriate as the soundtrack to a suspenseful whodunit. Some more musical reference points might be Larks' Tongues In Aspic-era King Crimson or the smaller ensemble pieces by Sun Ra. With Slang, Volapuk makes avant-garde music that can be challenging as well as listener-friendly

1. Danaj - 4:27
2. Taragot - 3:14
3. 2. 3. 4. - 2:09
4. La Fleche Qui Vole Est Immobile - 1:15
5. Three Curiously Insubstantial Duets: III - 3:16
6. La Tarte a la Courgette - 3:38
7. Machine a Coudre - 3:25
8. Citron 21 - 2:35
9. No Zdrowie - 1:33
10. Les Enfants de la Guerre - 2:52
11. L'Esquive Est Superieure a l'Attaque - 3:29
12. Une Femme aux Balkans - 1:58
13. Lorient - 3:56
14. La Chanson du Vo - 2:50
15. Il Pleut - 2:01

3. Polyglöt

    Polyglöt, the third Cuneiform Records release by Volapük, preserves the lively energy of the French ensemble's previous recordings and introduces new levels of depth and nuance. Volapük sounds like a cutting-edge gypsy band throughout much of Polyglöt, drawing heavily from Eastern European folk styles and simultaneously carrying forward the progressive sensibilities of the 1970s "Rock in Opposition" movement. The band also moves toward modern classical music of the minimalist school, while always retaining a folkish warmth and accessibility. Volapük's core trio are joined on the CD by Takumi Fukushima, a violinist previously in the alternative pop band After Dinner. As an added bonus, Swedish accordionist and composer Lars Hollmer of Accordion Tribe, Looping Home Orchestra, and Samla Mammas Manna contributes "Voilà Pük," a tango-inspired piece on which he also performs accordion, harmonium and melodica (overdubbed in Sweden and merged with a Guigou Chenevier/Michel Mandel rhythm track recorded in France).


1. Vieux Futur (Chenevier/Mandel/Saurel) - 5:02
2. Nusrat (Mandel) - 3:09
3. Voila Puk (Hollmer) - 2:40
4. Sanza (Chenevier/Mandel/Saurel) - 2:20
5. Tante Yo (Chenevier/Mandel/Saurel) - 4:04
6. Entre 2 Zoo (Chenevier) - 2:50
7. Technovo (Chenevier/Mandel/Saurel) - 2:35
8. Marimba (Chenevier/Mandel/Sauel) - 3:22
9. Des Liens Invisibles (Chenevier/Mandel/Saurel) - 2:44
10. Valse Chinoise (Colombo/Ghestem) - 2:29
11. Pablo (Mandel) - 3:16
12. Medication & Yoghurt (Chenevier/Fukushima) - 2:20
13. L'Oeuf d'Apuk (Chenevier/Mandel/Saurel) - 3:23