Led by guitarist Richard Pinhas, the French group Heldon released seven groundbreaking albums, melding electronic and rock forms, from 1974 to 1978. Pinhas also recorded six albums under his own name.
Pinhas was heavily influenced by Robert Fripp; this shows in his guitar playing, and in the titles of several of his compositions. While early LPs sometimes evoked the sound of Fripp and Eno, Heldon evolved in its own direction with heavy use of Mellotrons and Moog synthesizers and a Fripp influenced guitar tonality. The 2nd album, Allez Teia, has some particularly beautiful and relaxing music contrasted by a cover photo of violence in the Paris riots. Pinhas is or was a philosophy professor.
Some of the early work could be described as proto-ambient, though by the 4th and 5th albums the band was also charting a more industrial electronic territory.
The release of Heldon IV: Agneta Nilsson saw the group heading toward a more intense, menacing sound. Heldon V: Un Reve Sans Consequence Speciale was the first to feature the "classic" lineup of Pinhas, drummer Francois Auger, and keyboard player Patrick Gauthier. These three would be the key personnel on Heldon's last four albums.
Interface evolves into some of the most blistering guitar and synth music you'll find from this era. Standby adds some personnel from Magma and offers a nod to King Crimson.
The entire Pinhas/Heldon catalog was reissued on CD by Cuneiform, several featuring bonus live tracks.
Heldon took it's name from a controversial sci-fi novel by Norman Spinrad, the Iron Dream, which pretends to be a novel written by an alternate universe Adolph Hitler who channeled his visions into a bad sci-fi novel about a post apocalyptic society plagued by mutants and biker gangs. This parodies Hitler's visions and his quest for racial purity and involves mutant armies and epic battles. The book was banned in Germany, and generally doesn't get discussed much even though it's clearly anti-Hitler. Heldon borrows some names of songs from content (Zind) in the book and Pinhas later went on to collaborate with Spinrad on some recordings.
The first album has a dedication to Robert Wyatt, who at the time had recently suffered his paralyzing fall.
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