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Moving Gelatine Plates

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Biography All Music Guide

Group Members: Didier Malherbe

All Music Guide:

Although England was one of the more fertile grounds for progressive rock in the early '70s, continental Europe was also home to many groups that contributed to the genre. The Moving Gelatine Plates were one of the more innovative bands to come out of France during the period. The band's music was marked by shifting themes and alternating rhythms that were often delivered at a frantic pace. Like the groups from England's Canterbury scene, the Moving Gelatine Plates were also heavily influenced by jazz.

The Moving Gelatine Plates were formed by guitarist Gerard Bertram and bassist Didier Thibault, who met at school in Paris during the mid-'60s. Both men were enamored with the psychedelic sounds of bands like the Doors and the Yardbirds and the duo soon created a group called the Lines. After a series of drummers came and left the Lines, Michel Coulon joined the group. Coulon's arrival marked a shift in sound to a more experimental approach. Coulon also brought the band a new name, the Moving Gelatine Plates, a phrase he discovered while reading Steinbeck.

Coulon eventually left the band in search of a more profitable career. He was replaced by drummer Gerard Pons, whose formal music training meshed with the band's new experimental direction. Maurice Helmlinger, who played saxophone, trumpet, flute, and organ, soon completed the lineup.

In 1970, the Moving Gelatine Plates coaxed their way onto the stage at a music festival in Le Bourget, France. The band members couldn't afford tickets to the festival, which featured headliners such as Pink Floyd, so the Moving Gelatine Plates played for free in exchange for admission to the other shows. Their performance on a smaller stage in front of 400 people was such a success that the band was asked to play on the main stage for a crowd of 5,000. The Moving Gelatine Plates' appearance at Le Bourget brought them attention from the music press and the band soon had a cult following even though they hadn't released any albums. Their growing reputation also brought them attention from CBS Records, who offered them a contract. At the time, the band turned down the offer because of fears they would have to make their sound more commercial.

After problems getting an album recorded through a minor label, the Moving Gelatine Plates finally signed with CBS in 1971. The band's debut, The Moving Gelatine Plates, was recorded in only six days and CBS released the album in 1971 with little promotion. Despite record sales of only 10,000 copies, The Moving Gelatine Plates received a positive response from fans and the press.

Augmented by a group of session musicians, the Moving Gelatine Plates returned to the studio at the end of 1971 to record their second album, The World of Genius Hans. The album was released on CBS in 1972, but distribution and promotion problems once again plagued record sales. Like their debut album, The World of Genius Hans received a warm response from the few critics and listeners who heard it.

As a result of poor record sales, equipment expenses, and the band's inability to book shows, the Moving Gelatine Plates were soon in debt. Pons eventually had to sell his drums and gave up music altogether. The other members continued with new drummer Alain Clarel, but the band's financial woes quickly resulted in their breakup.

Thibault reformed the Moving Gelatine Plates in 1978 with all new members and renamed the band Moving. In 1980, the group released a self-titled album, featuring guest musician Didier Malherbe of Gong, on the small AMO label. This version of the band folded in 1981.

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