Heavy sounds from French brothers-in-prog with no strings attached!
“WE MAY BE the only band in France that plays with just an organ and drums,” says Colin Goallen, drummer of the Reine-based hard progressive psych duo Moundrag. “For many people, the first time they hear us, it’s a real shock!”
Having released their debut album, Hic Sunt Moundrages, last October, Moundrag – aka brothers Colin and Camille – make an extraordinary racket augmented by the mighty timbre of the Hammond organ and their duelling harmony vocals. They’re two men with a fondness for the Devil’s interval and their unholy noise could wake the dead.
“People think they’re hearing lots of instruments,” adds Colin, “but there’s no guitar or bass; it’s just the distortion of the organ with pedals and a lot of amps.”
Does Colin’s brother Camille, Brittany’s leading Hammond organ practitioner, make his cacophony with the aid of the foot pedals you get on church organs?
“No, I play the bass with my left hand like Ray Manzarek used to do,” says Camille. “The first time I saw The Doors playing on YouTube, I said to myself, ‘I can do this.’”
The Goallen brothers were members of local boogie rockers Smooth Motion before the lead singer decided to go travelling. Moundrag consciously uncoupled themselves from that band and discovered they could make a far more formidable noise with just the two of them.
France has gifted the world yé-yé and the French touch, though there are few outfits across La Manche whose primary influence is Deep Purple. But then the Goallens feel more Breton than French anyway, as proud Celts who grew up on Arthurian legend, and we’re talking King Arthur rather than the Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. Though it turns out, they’re avowed fans of organist Vincent Crane too. “I loved him in Atomic Rooster!” says Camille.
Their adoration of British bands came from their Irish uncle, a mentor figure who helped teach them how to play their instruments. He handed the boys a tape of Deep Purple’s Made In Japan when they were just kids.
“It was mind blowing for us,” says Camille, with a sense of awe.
“It’s like our bible,” adds Colin with a whisper.
Made In Japan includes a 20-minute rendition of Space Truckin’ on the B-side, and accordingly, Moundrag have made their own 20-minute epic, La Poule, for the flipside of their debut, which twists and turns like a baby chicken on a spit.
“We grew up listening to albums by ELP and Yes,” says Camille, “and there was always a big song on side two. We wanted to create a long song with orchestral parts like they used to do in the 70s.”
As for the title, Hic Sunt Moundrages, it’s a play on the Latin phrase ‘hic sunt dracones’ or ‘here be dragons’, and Camille and Colin aren’t averse to silly nomenclature. In Smooth Motion they used to go by the aliases Organ Theory and Dr Mad Drum.
“I will tell you the truth,” titters Camille, sounding slightly embarrassed, “we’d been drinking beer…”
“I gave myself that name because I just love the playing of Keith Moon,” adds Colin. “He was the main Dr Mad Drum on Earth.”
From "Limelight - Moundrag" Prog
Issue 138 Reprinted with permission.