Heldon - Stand By LP
Label: Bureau B
Bureau B present a reissue of Heldon's seventh and final album of the 1970s Stand By, originally released in 1979. After the release of Stand By, Richard Pinhas focused on solo LPs before quitting music for around a decade. "It was the end of the tale," he explains. "We decided to split for many reasons. The main one was that one or two of the other musicians wanted to stop. They were session musicians, mainly. At one point they said they didn't have so much time to give. And it was a time when a lot of bands who had become reluctantly successful decided to split . . . Split at the top, not waiting to go down." Heldon certainly went out on a high. Stand By's mood remains urgent and gripping throughout, fashioned via immense synthesizer sounds, a plethora of interweaving drum patterns, spiraling guitar chops, and lurching riffs. It's been likened to krautrock, yet Pinhas never paid attention to the German scene. There are other similarities to parallel innovations that John Carpenter was making in the field of sci-fi/horror soundtracks. The hazmat-suit-wearing figure on Stand By's cover could have starred in such a movie.
The album's unearthly vocals were provided by Klaus Blasquiz of Magma. Some progressive musicians of the '70s felt threatened by the rise of punk – Not Pinhas. As producer, he worked with French punk acts like Asphalt Jungle. No, Pinhas was more troubled by wider world developments. These miseries played their own part in Heldon's demise. "We recorded Stand By in '78, going into '79. Politics had all shifted to the right with your Maggie Thatcher and, in America, that very bad actor. They started the bullshit of neoliberalism that we have to live with now, everywhere. We're going to be in a very fascistic world within twenty years. Not even that long. The initiation of this change came with Reagan and Maggie. It started in the '80s." Stand By was recorded at Studio Davout, the Parisian home to recordings by everyone from Karlheinz Stockhausen to Johnny Hallyday. That, too, has fallen victim to brutal economics. It was demolished in 2018. "They destroyed the main historical studio in France to put up a supermarket!" says Pinhas. "It was a place where a lot of things happened. Musicians were working all night long. It could've been a museum for music."