That influence is clear on the second Heldon album, “Allez-Teia”, originally released in 1975 on Pinhas’s own Disjuncta label. The opening song, a soaring mix of string-like electronics and smeared guitar, is called “In the Wake of King Fripp,” a reference both to the guitarist and King Crimson’s second album “In the Wake of Poseidon”. The meditative “Omar Diop Blondin,” in which free tones float above a repetitive guitar figure, is dedicated to Fripp and Eno. (Strong influence also comes from The Soft Machine’s Robert Wyatt, who was slated to record some tracks with Pinhas for “Allez-Teia” until the expense of his travel from London to Paris proved prohibitive.
Yet “Allez-Teia” — whose title is a nod to “aletheia,” the ancient Greek term for philosophical truth — is hardly a tribute album. The pieces Pinhas crafts with partner Georges Grunblatt — both playing guitar, Mellotron, and ARP synths — are beatific on the surface but infused with undercurrents of tension.
Over four decades after he made “Allez-Teia”, Pinhas’s admiration for King Crimson remains profound. He actually met Fripp in 1974, and the two still stay in touch. “We have a great friendship; he has been very helpful,” says Pinhas. “Fripp has always been my Hendrix.” Some artists might balk at admitting such strong influence over their own work, but for Pinhas it’s all about respect. “In the academic world in France, you list your sources,” says Pinhas, who received a Ph.D in philosophy before launching his music career. “So I thought it was good to say, ‘Yes, we are influenced by this, and we are proud of it, and people have to know it.’ The work of King Crimson at that time was very important. It’s not a secret.”