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CHARLES DE GOAL (Buy CDs by this artist)
Algorhythmes (Fr. New Rose) 1981
Ici l'Ombre (Fr. New Rose) 1982
3 (Fr. New Rose) 1984
Double Face (Fr. New Rose) 1986

Stylish but awkward, this French artist is at his best on weird, moody synthesizer workouts — those songs that rely on choppy guitar and weak singing aren't as effective. A version of Bowie's "Hang on to Yourself" (on Algorhythmes) is skittish and tense, but not especially different from the original; its inclusion seems purposeless.

Ici l'Ombre has very little in the way of electronics; most of the tracks use only electric guitar, bass and drums. Among the haphazard collection of styles played poorly here: garden-variety punk ("Atout Mineur"), glum solemnity ("Rouge sur Blanc"), acoustic piano ("Face/Coma"), gothy noise ("Self Control") and squiggly synth-pop ("Kling Klang"). Hopeless.

Charles gets his cabinet properly organized on 3, but the well-produced and reasonably focused mixture of guitars, synthesizers and Linndrum still isn't very entertaining. Dramatic singing doesn't improve the weak material; while the cute melodic rock ("Hop Hop Hop Hop," "Technicolor") and a clumsy English cover of Wire's "A Question of Degree" are amusing enough, the barren dance experiments that otherwise fill the album are fairly dismal.

[Ira Robbins]