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Paganotti/Paga Group - Gnosis CD (album) cover

GNOSIS

Paganotti/Paga Group

 

Zeuhl

3.04 | 4 ratings

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Ricochet
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Notoriously creating a side project called Weidorje, together with other great Magma friends, and filling it with a wonderful taste of dark, bass-driven, improvisational prog rock, Bernard Paganotti also had in mind, around the mid-80s, to make a solo project, with a music of original (or not) motions. Joined notably by Gauthier or Goude back then, Paga is probably Paganotti's strongest and liveliest album, crafted in 1984 - and re-released in 1991, between his other two works. By the next album, the mixture of jazz-rock and Zeuhl(-rock) stops being such a pure and significantly double-sided virtue, and the crystallization towards the first begins to take its effect. Haunted from 1988 is, not at all absurdly, different from Paga, the band itself becoming Paga Group, by losing on the efforts by Gauthier, Goude, Popkiewicz, Leroux or the Guillard brother, instead making stronger the sympathetic collaboration with drummer Salmieri or with vocalist Klaus Basquiz. With Bertrand Lajudie and Basquiz being on both Paga Group albums, Paganotti only invites a new drummer and a new talented saxophone player on Gnosis, and also seeks a perfectly jazz-istic sound rather than a stylish confrontation between his two past musical sides. If the three albums Paganotti worked on are really a trilogy of sorts, then Gnosis, as the third and last, is a moment of jazz clarity, modern as time, casual as sensation, decent or good as quality and verve.

With Urantia, the margin between Zeuhl and clear jazz can be more than obvious. The wonderful original piece (from 1984's Paga) is taken into a more subtle, but also skinnier form, the conversion amazing with piano melodies and calm beats where, previously, there was an electricity governed by groove, with sugar vocals where the hysterical ones were more fitting, or with a dreamy beautiful work of jazz where the rush of Zeuhl and rock were interestingly frenetic. The new Urantia is good, powerful in some ways and edgy only because of a fusion keyboards improvisation that primates, the adaption into jazz and soft moods just speaks for itself. Jazzobizz is "more like it", though it depends: from an angle, a bit of Paganotti's spirit into music is visible, rhythms and grooves pushing the beauty of the sound into something special, but from another viewpoint, the piece is a long and complex jazz improvisation, starting from bass glassy chords (perhaps the Chapman Stick, in a moment of high pitches?) and wobbling fusion to a interesting and not very usual long drift of spice, beats, "sax songs" and jazz arches. Tasteful is the middle part, full of energy and bitterly extroverted. Casual for any jazzy taste, it's a better piece in the album.

The middle pieces are strong, especially if the mood asks for a fast-rhythm that needn't mean a jazz ecstasy, such as in Caravan, or for a return to some unusual, bit chromatic fusion, as in Coupe de Blues. The difficulty would be the soft vocals in the first, while the ambiance in the second, even intensified along the way or worked through a kaleidoscopic instrumentality ("bits and pieces" creating effects or static twists), is just okay. Again, regarding Coupe de Blues, Paganotti's memorable bass-guitar gift can crash and burn, if your mind is really set on expecting some "modern Zeuhl" ruts. Going back to the over-10 minutes delights (though, honestly, Gnosis is entirely an album of long pieces), Niklaw has, again, a very casual jazz movement, but is definitely worth a listen, going from smooth oozes to hard eruptions. Not as much of a goody as Jazzobizz, this piece is still worth a pleasant spin, good music being a thing of passionate interpretation and easy art, for once. Zigzag ends Gnosis, with a circle of ambitious improvisations starting from an ambiance of keyboards and drums, the wind instrumentality being special, while the piano sound creates a both complex and complicated atmosphere. Tough opinion to make about the sharp keys-fusion that springs all over again at one point, but in the end an influence taken from ol' Zawinul's awe-sounding music could be noted.

Without being the jazz side of Zeuhl, Gnosis is the jazz side of Bernard Paganotti, with a newer group and spirit than last time, making fine music, but overall missing the essential core; his (their) second album is nice, whiskering a couple of inspiring and elegant moments.

Ricochet | 3/5 |

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