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Paganotti/Paga Group - Paga CD (album) cover


Paganotti/Paga Group



4.16 | 18 ratings

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4 stars Bernard Paganotti's solo albums (presented into two separate, but not severely different visions and periods) can fall nowhere else but into the grand family and business of Zeuhl/French rock (later Jazz-Rock), relating excessively yet not tediously to Weidorje, and also making a step towards planting a story about the pivotal Magma. It's fairly obvious how an entire family is present around the same progressive rock spots, and how the spot keeps growing in more artists, projects, solos and progressive music by the day, on one hand because Magma is pronely a band of individually genius artists (I'd dare say in a better way than some symphonic rock bands, whose musicians also broke up into their own "industry", at one point), and on the other hand because there's a perfect balance of Zeuhl original art and a bright, essential originality, reflecting a solo artist, such as Paganotti.

Scraping through the archives, you'll damn well notice a lush tree of artists from the family, most of them having all the qualities and the drives which to make their work very interesting: from Magma and Vander in the center to the one-hit wonder that's the brilliant Weidorje project, from Gauthier (who ultimately leads to Pinhas) to Benoit Widemann, a very peculiar artists considering his wide mix of Kraftwerk-worthy electronics, jazz, funk and art-rock-pop, or Jean-Philippe Goude (whose similar tastes might actually not end up being added, nevertheless can be valued). Bernard Paganotti is simply one of the great artists, richly knowing the right stuff, sanguinely original even though, in a conclusion, you can draw where the lines of his vision come from, and interesting or charming, not only because he was one of two-three artists making Weidorje so magnificent, but because he's got a seed of full art even in the empty spaces where the music just plays easily.

For the moment, Bernard Paganotti composes a 35 minutes work, labelled under his own name (not under Paga Group, the second identity of this artist's solo career), but pictured along good friends and fine artists of the Magma circle. Guiding myself after some works and times (cause I'm far from an expert), it's clear that the relation with Magma is a bit simulated, neither Paganotti or Gauthier having adventured much into Vander's band after 1976, with few exceptions like the Retrospectives (and Merci, where Gauthier contributes). On the other hand, the link with Weidorje can reach an apotheosis to many fans, one even superficial at times, given that the music in Paga - even the "Zeuhl music" - hasn't really got exclusively the same beat and art as in Weidorje. But, what's fair, Patrick Gauthier, Alain & Yvon Guillard and Jean-Philippe Goude are also present on Paga, while Maria Popkiewicz joins from Magma, singing along Carol Rowley as vocalist, Kokyo Okumura and Chizuru Hosoya are the Japanese vocalists, and drummer Claude Salmieri will stay a bit longer aside Paganotti, in the future. All 12 artists are making a hysterically groovy mix of bass, drums, Zeuhl winds and outer-firm vocals, realized in an artistic tremble, or a scenic bliss.

Paga howls you up, enticingly, with strong Zeuhl music, of different flavors and twists, even if Paganotti's "bass songs" and the reminiscence of Weirdorje's elaborate groove puts on the coat of bass 'n' rock on this material's shoulders. The music on Weidorje is much better than here on, more instrumental for a first, then more intense and craving. Paga's improvisations are, still, far from blindly experimental, except the point where funk and pure art rock meet with the Zeuhl core. Jazz is abundant in Paga, the windy saxophone or the grasping trumpets helping out, while the rest has to do with a bit of virtuosity, with linguine powerful melodies or with the attractive use of rhythms, small melodies in tougher epics or earth-shaking furrows. I must be out of my mind thinking a large air from Paga's jazz sounds like early Return To Forever, but that's what I carefully hear and what's, occasionally, driving me crazy. The jazz, anyway, has a special classic art. The vocals are somewhat condemnable, but I'd say both the French and the Japanese mix of songs are likable, while Paganotti's own score is rougher. A bit more schizophrenic and irregular would be the electronic range of keyboards, even though Rhodes are closely drudged.

Talk back is simple, razor sharp, coming better to senses with a great twist jazzy improvisation upon the middle. Mitchinoku is wonderful, but perhaps not for all tastes, with electric Zeuhl at first, a more flowery melody in the middle, and a surprising open, powerful finish, of a not just a fine sensibility, but also a fanciful drag. Show Town is calm, harmonic, a bit retro (?!), highlighting vocals, over-toned drums and a fairly cool (but not special) breeze. Une parcelle d'Urantia is truly the master-work, an epic of several smaller pieces and themes, each one sub-woofed in a dark, bassy groove, splendid vocal works and exciting electric sounds. It chills on Zeuhl drama, jazz scrupulous freedoms and rock concrete taps. A brilliant piece by Paga(notti), to be rehearsed again in other albums; it also benefits from a short epilogue, rather dark and mirrored, anyway stone-powerful and rude on striking sounds.

Very interesting and good album, with inspiring emotions and worked styles; four content stars.

Ricochet | 4/5 |


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