Spring 2002 A4, 44 pages
VOLCANO THE BEAR
original (last 12 copies)
Back in the late 1960's France was rife with new-music,
and a huge jazz scene. In answer to all this, it was one of the first
countries in Europe to set-up specialist labels covering this music. Futura
was one such label, managed by jazz aficionado and producer Gerard Terrones.
Typical of the first wave of French independents, in parallel to the much
more famous Byg Records, Saravah, or the more avant-garde focused Shandar.
Like Byg, Futura was mostly new-jazz, its GER series of releases focused on
the Paris scene and the wealth of British and American talent setting up
their second base in the French capital. It was a busy prolific scene, but
one that also burnt-out before the
As you know, though, Audion is not a jazz magazine (though we do cover much jazz crossover and fringe musics, especially rock biased) and we are not really concerned here with the majority of the Futura label's output, we're interested in the special musics of the French underground...
SON series "musiques improvisées"
01 Raymond Boni - L'oiseau, l'arbre et le béton (29/3/71)
02 Seemool - Essais (12/3/71)
03 Horde Catalitique Pour La Fin - Gestation Sonore (20/2/71)
04 Jean Guérin - Tacet (6/1/71)
05 Bernard Vitet - La Guepe (17/12/71)
06 Jacques Berrocal - Musiq Musik (1972)
RED series "musiques rock & pop"
01 Red Noise - Sarcelles Locheres (28/11/70)
02 Mahogany Brain - With When (Junk Saucepan) (15/12/70)
03 Triode - On n'a pas fini d'avoir tout vu (13/4/71)
04 Fille Qui Mousse - Trixie Stapleton 291 (
05 Yves Touati (with Magma) - Le Voyage en Printemps (18/5/72)
06 Travelling - Voici La Nuit Tombée (5/2/73)
VOIX series "théatre musicale"
01 Chene Noir - Aurora (23/6/71)
Of the above, only three have not been reissued (to date), the Raymond Boni would seem to be of interest, whereas the Bernard Vitet would be more at home on the jazz series, and the Yves Touati is a totally unknown item. Let's review all those that have CD issues to date...
SEMOOL - ESSAIS (Mellow MMP 403) CD 36m
So obscure, abstract and of the under-underground, we originally thought that Semool were some sort of free-jazz (based on what one person taped us), but no - Semool were psychedelic avant-garde, with a guitarist often intent on copying Syd Barrett guitar lines.
Semool were a trio of: Philippe Martineau (guitar, percussion), Olivier Caquil (guitar, piano) and Rémy Dédé (percussion) who seem to have collated their album of sketches piecemeal over the period of January 1969 to March 1971. Generally mid to low-fi, no doubt due to much multi-tracking (bouncing channels) at a low-budget studio, it is nonetheless fresh and engaging avant-garde, sometimes sounding almost proto-Nurse With Wound, sometimes Satie-Stockhausen like the NWW related Sema, and when most abstract I hear elements of improv Henry Cow. Yet this is way before all that, with much in the way of explorative tape delay, collage and such-like.
The eleven tracks are rather unimaginatively titled Essais 1 through to Essais 11, but that belies the imagination in the music, which is very explorative, and impossible to pin down. I guess they were at a loss as to what to call it all!
HORDE CATALITIQUE POUR LA FIN - GESTATION SONORE (Mellow MMP 404) CD
Important as the roots behind the experimental ethnic duo: Goa & Francky Bourlier (more recently known as Arthea) Horde Catalitique Pour La Fin were actually much too free-jazz for my tastes, at odds with almost everything else here. Those who love squawky jazz with the accent on dissonance will no doubt love it. The big surprise is that Mellow reissued it!
JEAN GUÉRIN: TACET (Elica MPO-3560) CD 40m
One of the best-kept secrets in the Futura catalogue, is the album that resulted from the soundtrack work of Jean Guérin - an explorative classical avant-garde and jazz drummer. In those good old days (the 1980's), when we used to get a lot of weird French cinema on BBC2 and Channel 4, we were fortunate to catch Claude Faraldo's totally eccentric film "BOF" and marvel at Guérin's totally weird soundtrack. It's a distant fond memory now, and I'm not surprised the film shocked French audiences with its subversive attack against normal society. We also noted that Nurse With Wound had seemingly hijacked some elements of the score in their debut album CHANCE MEETING..., and the LP eluded us for ages.
Although reissued in the mid-70's as the soundtrack to "BOF", the album isn't exactly so, hence the title TACET (from Latin, meaning "to be quiet" or "non engaging") in which he added instrumental contributions of Bernard Vitet and Jean Paul Rondepierre (trumpets and trumpet-in water), Philippe Maté (tenor sax), Françoise Achard (vocals and gloup ténor), Diéter Guévissler (double bass), all added to Jean Guérin's original score (bass guitar, darbouka, gloup ténor, percussion, rhythm machine, generator, VCS3), at odds with most other Futura releases (often recorded in a one-day session) TACET took many months of studio work, and is reputedly the most expensive production of the whole Futura catalogue.
The album is remarkable, and totally out-there in its own world. In it, we have squeaky elements of scrappy Berrocal like jazziness, clever use of electronics, processing and sound collage, use of reverse tapes, twisted sound envelopes, unusual use of water and metal, surreal vocal elements and much more. It's cosmic, surreal, totally over the edge, challenging, elusive, yet always manages to stay musical. Occasionally the territory is similar to that of Pierre Henry's electroacoustic prepared percussion works, yet it's also always very psychedelic, with the jazz elements kept in check. I've probably not described it that well, but describing something unique is not at all easy!
JACQUES BERROCAL - MUSIQ (Fractal 017) CD 30m
I recall Jac saying that a reissue of this was very unlikely as the tapes had been lost, but it would seem that he was wrong. Cheekily self quoted as the bad boy of French jazz, this was Jac's debut recorded shortly after a musical exploration tour of the Middle East, which aside from its brevity is a remarkable album.
Not a real solo, however, the album was actually credited to the three performers: Jacques Berrocal (trumpet, percussion, trombone, flute, shenai, vocals, harmonium), Dominique Coster (trombone, percussion, vocals, explosives), Roger Ferlet (cornet, vocals, percussion, string instruments), and it is pretty much an album of understatement, relying extensively on ethnic percussives (things like bells, rattles, shakers more so than drums) generally muted winds and other subtle instrument and voice. It's not really jazz either, it's something else, definitely Berrocal bric-a-brac music though, in a world of its own, except maybe comparable, at times, to the weirder more experimental stuff from the Ohr label, like Anima, Annexus Quam or Limbus, or maybe an understated AMM Music with an ethnic edge. Aside from that, its restraint is its greatest asset, and all the more so on CD, without all that horrible record groove noise!
RED NOISE - SARCELLES-LOCHÈRES (Futura RED 01) CD 39m
I think it's vital to list the track details on an album such as this, as the make-up of how the album was constructed is important. First off, tracks 1 to 10 made up side 1 of the LP, with 11 and 12 encompassing side 2 of the album...
1. Cosmic Toilet Ditty 0'39"
2. Caka Slow (Patrick Vian/Daniel Geoffroy) 4'20"
inc. Vertebrate Twist (Philip Barry)
3. Obsession Sexuelle N° 1 (Jean-Claude Cenci) 0'28"
4. Galactic Sewer-Song (Philip Barry) 4'03"
5. Obsession Sexuelle N° 2 (Jean-Claude Cenci) 0'12"
6. Red Noise Live Au Café Des Sports (Red Noise) 2'07"
7. Existential-Import Of The Screw-Driver Eternity Twist (Philip Barry) 2'02"
8. 20 Mirror Mozarts Composing On Tea Bag And ½ Cup Bra (Philip Barry) 2'28"
9. Red Noise En Direct Du Buffet De La Gare - 2é Partie (Red Noise) 2'14"
10. A La Mémoire Du Rockeur Inconnu (Jean-Claude Cenci) 0'39"
11. Petit Précis D'instruction Civique (Patrick Vian) 0'35"
12. Sarcelles C'est L'avenir (Red Noise) 18'56"
Red Noise (alongside Fille Qui Mouse) were the "efants terribiles" of the Paris underground scene, they were radical and groundbreaking in almost every sense of the word. Right from the opening track, where it seems we're being confronted by some drunken Parisian revellers, this album shouts at the listener - good and loud. During their lengthy history Red Noise featured many of the key figures in the Paris underground, but on 28 November 1970 they consisted of: Patrick Vian (lead guitar, vocals), Jean-Claude Cenci (saxes, flute, vocals), Daniel Geoffroy (bass, vocals), Philip Barry (drums, guitar, vocals) + John Livengood (organ), Austin Blue (percussion).
Right from the start, Cosmic
Toilet Ditty aptly provides some claustrophobic toilet theatrics, and
being told "Don't forget to wash your hands listeners!" you know
this is going to be a fun ride. Caka
Slow is some sort of drunken chant at a late-night Parisian Brasserie,
"???... le flic, le flic... ???" (French lessons needed!) with a
few surprises thrown in, notably the credited Vertebrate Twist, which sounds like a really funny Barrett era
Pink Floyd creation, and the declaration that "the Eiffel Tower is just
a phallic symbol". This complex 4 minute creation ends with the famous
"Toilet Song". The two Obsession
Sexuelle ditties are mad multi-saxophone montages created by Jean-Claude
Cenci, acting as sharp contrasts. But, talking of contrasts, that's what Red
Noise was all about, with Galactic
Petit Précis D'instruction Civique seems to be instructing us on how to live the Red Noise way (French lessons needed again!) before we head into the album's magnum-opus: Sarcelles C'est L'avenir which freaks-out in the manner of Arzachel or Pink Floyd in "overdrive" mode. The little freak-outs from side 1 all get given their due space here. This is one of those feasibly infinite jams, that could forever spiral on, twisting and turning, propelled by an extraordinary rhythm section, superb organ (from John Livengood) to the rear, guitar(s) on one channel, and wild sax on the other, reaching heights only ever paralleled by things like Tangerine Dream's ELECTRONIC MEDITATION or Arzachel's Metempsychosis, especially when it all breaks-up with howling voices joining-in (circa 16 minutes) building again to a furious drive. A sizzler!
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