Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Patrick Vian - 1976 - Bruits et Temps Analogues

Patrick Vian 
Bruits et Temps Analogues

01. Sphère (6:10)
02. Grosse Nacht Musik (5:05)
03. Oreknock (6:45)
04. Old Vienna (2:10)
05. R & B Degenerit! (6:10)
06. Barong Rouge (4:10)
07. Tunnel 4, Red Noise (4:30)
08. Bad Blue (1:56)
09. Tricentennial Drag (2:20)

- Georges Granier / electric piano, marimba, noises
- Mino Cinelu / drums, percussion
- Bernard Lavialle / guitar
- Patrick Vian / Moog synthesizer, ARP 2600, Moog sequencer, piano

The recording career of little-known French musician Patrick Vian, son of novelist and jazz trumpeter Boris Vian, began with the sound of someone using and then flushing a toilet. Fortunately, from such inauspicious beginnings came great wonder. That recording, as part of the prog-leaning group Red Noise, came from their sole album from 1970, Sarcelles - Lochères. The band subsequently split in two, mirroring the actions of German krautrock collective Amon Düül. While one half of the group soldiered on under the name Komintern, Vian was preparing his masterwork. Released six years after Sarcelles - Lochères, the playful spirit of that album remained on Bruits et Temps Analogues, even if the tools for getting the job done were remarkably different. Here, Vian cooks up a form of cosmic jazz, made with the aid of various Moog and ARP synths, plus a backing band that includes drummer Mino Cinelu (Weather Report, Miles Davis, Gong).
It's the type of recording that's circulated in small underground circles for years, partly abetted by Vian's inclusion (along with Red Noise) on Nurse With Wound's notorious list of artists that inspired them. There's a sense of a beginning rather than an end, a feeling that Vian was onto something that he could have developed further. Instead, he fell silent in subsequent decades, just leaving this singular recording hanging. Vian leans heavily on his analog arsenal, but there's plenty of room for bursts of guitar noodling (courtesy of Bernard Lavialle) and Cinelu's impeccably fussy rolls. The circular, clean-cut guitar riff that drives "Sphere" even sounds like a precursor to the Sea and Cake's central sound. But this is an album that doesn't stay in place for long. Sometimes it's purely made up of intricately overlapping keyboard parts, similar in tone to Harald Grosskopf's analog wanderings; elsewhere there's an airy, new age feel; on "Old Vienna" a form of mania sets in, as rhythms escalate wildly in tempo.
The way the album lurches in mood adds to the mystery, with the quirky parts bolted on to more somber fare, occasionally making it sound like a Moog demonstration record that was intended to be taken utterly seriously. Vian's motivations for making this are anyone's guess, but somehow he managed to sequence it so a crazy burst of machine noise could effortlessly slide into a piece of elegant Moog-driven funk and then back out into utter chaos again ("R & B Degenerit !"). Of course there were many other artists testing out the boundaries of old ARP synths and similar instruments during the 70s, but here Vian demonstrates both a mastery of the tools at his disposal and a wide-open mind as to where they could take him. His work with Red Noise awkwardly hopped through an array of genres, but here there's a more seamless blend, with his keyboard work tying together all the maniacal shifts charging through his mind.
This reissue of Bruits et Temps Analogues by the Staubgold label doesn't add anything to what came before; no outtakes, no demos, no lost material excavated from the vaults. It's better that way, leaving something of the original spirit of the LP intact. What's most perplexing about Vian's short career is the breadcrumb trail he left behind here, offering hints of further experimentation to come. "Tricentennial Drag" appears to be leading us somewhere else altogether via a series of primitive cut-ups, bursts of sheer aggression, and blaring police sirens. It was nothing particularly new for the time, perhaps even a little dated when you consider the White Noise were working in a similar zone some eight years prior. But it sounds like the germ of an idea he was about to exploit. Instead, all that’s left is this, sealed by a back cover image of Vian that's easy to romanticize, depicting him rowing away on an old wooden canoe to some unspecified destination.

French artist Patrick Vian, formerly of Seventies avant group Red Noise, released his one solo album `Bruits Et Temps Analogues' in 1976, and what a baffling yet intriguing electronic-related album it is. A colourful and confusing work that perhaps occupies the mindset of Vangelis' unconventional albums from the same decade, or even Manuel Göttsching's Ashra in just a few moments, but without leaving quite as much of an impression as those works did, it's a mix of progressive-electronic, jazz/fusion, ambient, blues and avant-garde that makes it quite fragmented and disjointed, yet full of experimental potential that was never followed up on.
Chilled bluesy guitars may burn over whirring Moog and trilling synths throughout opener `Sphere', but `Grosse Nacht Musik' is pure floating electronic ambience full of mystery and wonder, and one of the best pieces on the LP. Quickening murky loops, drowsy guitar bends, lonely faraway flute, gentle sounds of nature and hypnotic electronics drift through `Oreknock', which might have easily come from the early Deuter albums, and the Vangelis-like synth experiment `Old Vienna' closes the first side.

Glistening Fender Rhodes electric piano and slow-burn funky guitars weave between splintering synth ripples on `R & B Degenerit!', percolating percussion carefully builds behind marimba as the Gong-like `Barong Rouge' slowly unwinds (unsurprising to find guest musician Mino Cinelu here, who actually played on that band's `Shamal' album, and in Zao and Weather Report), the maddening sequencer patterns of `Tunnel 4, Red Noise' cause instant mind-meltdown via bubbling freeform electronic nightmares, as if the groaning hostile mutant offspring of Pink Floyd's `On The Run' and mid Seventies Tangerine Dream are making violent love, `Bad Blue' is a jazzy piano interlude with a hint of darkness, and `Tricentennial Drag' is a fractured cut-up sound collage.

Fascinating, frustrating, unique and frequently gently precious, Patrick Vian's `Bruits Et Temps Analogues' is maybe not essential, but it still makes for an interesting and diverting little electronic curio that holds real magic in a few little spots, while also growing stronger with each listen. Electronic listeners, take a break from the big names of the genre and explore the little guys like this one, easier than ever before with the recent CD reissue!

1 comment:

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