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Paganotti/Paga Group


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Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is a Bernard Paganotti project, he used to play bass in the bands WEDORJE and MAGMA. Actually most of the guys from the WEIDORJE project help out on this one including Patrick Gauthier who also played with him in MAGMA. Laurent Thibault produced this album along with Paganotti, this is the same Laurent Thibault who also produced MAGMA's debut record.

"Talk Back" opens with piano, drums and bass before the vocals arrive courtesy of Paganotti as it calms down. It picks back up as dual female vocals come in. Nice. This vocal theme is repeated. A great rhythm 2 1/2 minutes in as piano and bass lead the way before drums and male vocals come in. Some moog here and to end the song from Gauthier. Check out the bass 5 minutes in,and the drumming 2 minutes later. "Mitchinoku" opens with some great fat bass lines as male and then female vocals enter. The female vocals continue as trumpet and sax come in. Check out the hypnotizing bass 3 minutes in. More horns, bass, male and female vocals follow. The last 2 minutes are pleasant as female words are spoken.

"Show Town" is slower paced with heavy drums, male vocals, guitar and bass. Piano comes in. A fuller, louder sound 3 minutes in. "Une Parcelle D'Urantia" is truly the highlight of the album. This is Zeuhl heaven. 30 seconds in dual female vocals, bass and piano get us going before some monster bass 1 1/2 minutes in. Very MAGMA-like here. The drumming is great 3 1/2 minutes in as trumpet joins in. I can't get over the bass on this one. Sax comes in. It's a lot of fun 6 1/2 minutes in. Male vocals a minute later. The piano, horns and bass are awesome. This is pure pleasure. A cool beat 8 minutes in. The song picks up speed before 12 minutes. Nice ending. "Final D'Urantia" is a short,intense, uptempo track. Bass, drums and acoustic piano lead the way. Vocals half way through. Amazing sound !

Report this review (#156775)
Posted Thursday, December 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
5 stars This is a MONSTER album by MONSTER Bass player Bernard Paganotti. Lovers of Bass Guitar, keep an eye out for this one !! BP onced passed through MAGMA, lending his virtuosic Bass skills to help create a phenomenal Live album (also odd tracks on various albums). Zheul Bass playing is in a league of its own, plenty of distortion and complex riffing, often sounding humanly impossible. Moving on, he formed 'WEIDORJE', releasing another heavily Bass oriented classic. It's not all just about the Bass Guitar, though. Keyboards play an important role, frantic Drum-work in an effort to keep the flow of the relentless compositions going smoothly, guitars and brass instruments included to expand the sound and enhance the shape of the final product. In 1985, Paganotti had assembled a new band featuring old friend Patrick Gauthier on Keys and a superb drummer by the name of Claude Salmieri. He even got his old band Weidorje together for a lengthy epic, resulting in this album 'Paga', released on a small, private label, 'Cream Records', and every bit as engaging as his previous work, and a valuable contribution to 'Zheul' prog. The opening song 'Talk Back' is a funky, up-beat number utilising many techniques of Bass playing, and an incredible Fretless Bass solo. Bernard handles the lead vocals (he makes a decent singer) and includes some female back-up singers. This one is sung in English. The production has great depth and clarity, and Salmieri proves to be a worthy Drummer. 'Mitchinoku' is a driving, Zheul track sung in Japanese (I guess) and features his wife, Naoko Paganotti. The final section is a triumphant piece with a catchy melody. Side 2 kicks off with a New-Wave influenced song, 'Show Town', sung in English again and features a deep, rumbling Bass-line. The near-13 minute 'Une Parcelle D'urantia' features old band-mates from Weidorje, and is an absolutely amazing track. From humble beginnings, the track moves through many sections, with the Bass being the focal-point, and drummer Kirt Rust puts in a mammoth effort on Drums - he seems to have improved technically from his earlier days. The Guillard brothers adding Flute, Trumpet and Sax to the brooding middle section, where complex interplay takes place between the female vox, Gauthier's Piano and the wind instruments, afterwards returning to earlier melodies and finishing with a storming riff. Fully breath-taking. The album finishes off with a very short piece, but it sounds complete, it's complex and incredibly dramatic. 5*
Report this review (#157098)
Posted Sunday, December 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
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.

Report this review (#158160)
Posted Wednesday, January 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
Retired Admin
4 stars The Zeuhl you'll take home to introduce to your father.

Yesterday I wrote about perhaps the best way of entering the fusion territories with German act Aera, so today I thought I'd continue the trend and tell you guys how best and most comfortable to commence your voyage into the lands of Zeuhl. Uhuhuhhhuuuuuhuuhh I hear a lot of you thinking: Isn't it that bizarre music with the chanting and the made up vocals? To which I then say: Yes you're quite right, but it also contains a hell of a lot more - just like the symphonic genre here is more than Close to the Edge, - and I'm also pretty confident that every Canterbury act doesn't sound exactly the same. I can actually vouch for the sonic distinction between Caravan's In the Land of Grey and Pink and National Health's self-titled debut. In fact those albums don't even sound like Robert Wyatt's The End of an Ear either!?!!! So what the blue feck is going on here?

The thing is, that we use these boxes to circumnavigate this infinitely huge place, but every "genre" here has so many different aspects and sounds to it, that simply saying: Zeuhl huh? What a bummer - is like saying the exact same thing about Canterbury(I purposely chose two of our smaller boxes here, but the point is still valid).

Paga is the ideal starting place for those of you who want to sample this highly original brand of music, but without jumping off at the deep end with but a pair of fluffy loafers to fend off the monsters. Paga is actually a continuation of the French band called Weidorje, who like many around that time made one breathtaking album in the 70s. Bernard Paganotti who instigated this continuation drew a lot of pals from the old band with him such as Magma affiliates(just like himself actually) Patrick Gauthier and producer Laurent Thibault. One big happy family! There are reminders of Weidorje on Paga, but to this listener the end result here is another beast altogether.

This record is all about the bass. It's up front and in your face - wearing countless of different masquerades, but never out of place or overindulgent. Paganotti is along with Percy Jones maybe the most humble of all the great bass players. His style is very original, and conveying the true feel of this man's work takes me to a somewhat preposterous place, but then again I was never known for my acute logical sense: David Gilmour, and I know that sounds pretty confusing and deranged, but hear me out now. Gilmour always had this smooth way of playing - bending the strings with his butter fingers like he was making love to the damn thing, and call me crazy, but Paganotti truly feels like that with his suave and booming approach. In fact if you've heard the oozing bass section from Floyd's Hey You off The Wall (Yes- it was Gilmour playing there)- you'll probably have a pretty good idea as what to expect from this guy's playing. He pulls and contorts the individual notes with soft and gentle writhing techniques that sound like they are caressing the bass with a swarm a kisses and g-spot touches. Sometimes he uses a stick, but that only enhances the fluid and booming feel there is to his style. He just might be the musical equivalent to the deep water eel.

Backing this comfortable gentle bass creature up are muffled background guitars that hide away waaaayy back in the mix - along with pianos going from running boxing Lucky Luke sections into sombre ethereal spouts of utter beauty. Some warm mumbling jazzy Rhodes charm also frequently fills the airwaves in that ever so earthy way. Then you have the formidable and almost teutonic rumbling drum work, that whilst sounding nothing like Christian Vander - still possesses that rolling and tumbling quality to them - along with a deep bellowing power that blends brilliantly into the bass. Just like most of the Zeuhl albums I've heard, it's mostly about the manner in which these two instruments flow together. Occasionally the music here is treated to another trait of this marvellous style, which is the female lead choral bursts. These are far from the demonic chants of Magma, sounding sweeter and more like proper backing vocals. Just like the drums are inter webbed with the bass, the female emanations here often stick together with the wind section, which is constituted by trumpet, sax and flute. They support Paganotti's English vocals, that work surprisingly good for an album like this. Soft delicate fusion Zeuhl for the masses?

All of this is cooked up in what I'd personally deem a strange sauce for a Zeuhl outing, because what this album's production reminds me the most of, is in fact Marillion's Fugazi. Okay, maybe not entirely as 80s sounding, but it still has a slightly polished patina, that helps the overall picture I was going for, as the easy to get into Zeuhl album. Don't get me wrong though, it sounds nothing like Fugazi - and it hasn't got that plastic feel of an 80s release, but the comparison still stands.

There are many reasons as to why you should get this, but first and foremost: get it because it is a wonderful record. Second, it is chuck full of melodies, aural bass bliss - coming in many different shadings, such as the astonishing solo on the first cut Talk Black that sends chills down my spine and never fails to end in goosebumps on my arms. Or maybe the funk inspired sections he successfully kneads into the different tunes here will better persuade you? There are so many things about this album I adore, that I would think it strange, ludicrous and quite mental if I didn't share my affection for it - especially seeing how small of a gathering the Zeuhl brand has drawn in from the enormous prog armies out there in the big wide world. So come on people - let go of your prefabricated notions and have a taste of something out of the ordinary. Dinner is served!

Report this review (#629239)
Posted Thursday, February 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I wonder what would have happened if Bernard Paganotti had stuck around with Magma, or even if Weidorje had continued? For anyone looking to explore the wider world of Zeuhl, look no further than this album. It's a brilliant exhibition of all the great aspects of Zeuhl. The only reason I've not given it five stars, bizarrely, is that some tracks are sung in English and are a bit more like Jazz/Funk than Zeuhl. But that's it. Otherwise, a fantastic effort. At just 35 minutes, it does feel a bit like a 'highlights' package, and its the final few tracks that really make this a great album. Paganotti's bass work is brilliant, but in combo with the other instruments and the vocals its almost a masterpiece. I'm not going to review each track in depth - just listen for yourself.
Report this review (#2693829)
Posted Saturday, February 19, 2022 | Review Permalink

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