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Patrick Forgas - Cocktail CD (album) cover


Patrick Forgas

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars Multi-instrumentalist Patrick Forgas developed a strange kind of psychedelic jazz-rock blending with latter 70's fusion, even more so for the second part of the 70's. While Forgas wrote and composed all of the music and he played roughly half the instruments on this album, it does not sound like a dodgy basement record with only him playing on it. I wouldn't call this album a group effort either, but the playing is tight and does not allow for indulgence. With a rather bland cartoon-like artwork (the back cover is much more fun and better fit for an artwork), this album was recorded in the spring and summer of 77, and released in the fall on the small Gratte-Ciel (sky-scrapper) record label, but as far as I know, this has never seen a Cd reissue, which is not the case for other albums of his. If you can imagine later Traffic mixed with some Jean-Luc Ponty, you might just have good idea of what awaits you on Coktail.

The first side of the vinyl is comprised of mostly very short tracks, with two notable exceptions, that brought a very varied atmosphere, generally light, funky and humorous, but none are actually really interesting either, as they seem to be serving as fillers. Only the longer Monks and Rhume De Foin (hay fever), the first with its almost 5 minutes seem to bring more depth, with a great groove underlined a superb bass line, with divine flute, sax and violin interplay. The second (and A-side closer) is a more reflective piece sounding like Traffic around the John Barleycorn Must Die album.

The B-side is taken-up by the lengthy (18-min+) My Trip, which actually is a fitting title, because this is one hell of a ride. If the first side was entirely instrumental, this track holds some vocals, which are not very strong though, resembling the usual French symphonic rock singing in the 70's. Again there is some particularly exciting violin playing (Tilleman plays on most of the better tracks of the album) very reminiscent of Ponty's then-contemporary albums, some dynamite sax (here Bruce Grant instead of Debricon on the flipside)

While Forgas might have appeared as an original and zany character in life, the music fails to represent this fully. For some reasons, as much as it is loaded with all the trumps, the album is a bit of a miss, but not far from a hit either. Hardly essential but still much worth a spin on your turntable.

Report this review (#119531)
Posted Tuesday, April 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Patrick Forgas' debut album, "Cocktail" (originally released in 1977, but reissued by Musea in 2008 with 13 bonus tracks), would not be misplaced among the output of other non-English Canterbury bands, such as Supersister or Picchio Dal Pozzo. As the colourful, cartoon-like cover artwork immediately suggests, this is not the kind of music that takes itself too seriously, in spite of the high technical quotient of the performances. Forgas' Wyatt-like vocals (admittedly a bit of an acquired taste), with their quintessentially French air of sophisticated nonchalance, add to this relaxed, feel-good atmosphere.

The first ten tracks - most of them no longer than a couple of minutes - are those featured on the original version of the album. The 18-minute suite My Trip, strategically placed in the tenth slot, comes in a way as a surprise. The album's undisputed highlight, it is one of those compositions that are almost impossible to describe effectively, on account of its extremely diverse structure. While all the instruments contribute to the build-up of this tour de force, the real star of "My Trip" is Gérard Prévost's bass. A former member of Magma offshoot Zao, Prévost really makes the difference here, his stunning performance holding an otherwise rather fragmented track together. Opening in classic jazz-rock fashion, with echoes of Bruford here and there, it then turns more experimental, with Forgas' scat-like vocalising, and lyrical violin strains to soften the atmosphere.

The bass is also at the forefront in the brisk, uptempo "Orgueil", coupled with clear, tinkling guitar; while "Monks", which also features Canterbury's trademark fuzzed-organ sound at the beginning, is built upon a steadily weaving main theme, enriched by violin and flute. Forgas' elegantly measured drumming is a core feature of all the songs, enhancing even very short offerings such as "Reflet D'Ail" or "Vol D'Hirondelles". His peculiar singing style (a falsetto that sometimes reminded me of The Northettes, even more so than Robert Wyatt) fits the nature of the compositions, in which classic Canterbury stylings meet with funky touches (as in the almost danceable rhythm and vocals of "Rhume Des Foins"), besides the more obvious jazz influences. The latter are very prominent in the title-track, whose smooth, almost lazy flow reflects the carefree attitude implied by the album cover artwork.

The thirteen bonus tracks include alternate versions of some of the original songs, as well as previously unreleased material. The latter ranges from the oddly infectious tune of "Magie Major" to the darker, electronics-infused atmosphere of "Arrête-Toi" and "Espoir". Somewhat frustratingly, none of those tracks (with the sole exception of the demo version of "My Trip"), is longer than four minutes. While all adequate, they are not what I would call indispensable: the bass-driven "Nos Cheveux Emmelés", with its relaxed, jazzy pace and Canterbury-style organ in the background, is the only song that actually stands out. In spite of the album's undeniable strengths, it should also be stressed that 73 minutes are a bit excessive for the average listener's attention span, in particular for those who prefer to listen to albums in one sitting. On the other hand, Musea Records deserve praise for having rescued it from oblivion, even if not all the bonus tracks are up to scratch. Highly recommended to Canterbury and classic jazz-rock/fusion fans, as well as to those who appreciate an outstanding rhythm section, "Cocktail" is a very enjoyable, uplifting effort, worthy of a solid 4-star rating.

Report this review (#261324)
Posted Sunday, January 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars Patrick Forgas a self confessed Robert Wyatt fan really delivered the goods on this his debut from 1977. Very much in the Canterbury style as this so called French Robert Wyatt drums and sings(what else) with seven other musicians helping out. I'm surprised at the Zeuhl musicians on board here in keyboardist Jean-Pierre Fouquey(MAGMA), bassist Gerard Prevost(ZAO, RAHMANN) and violinist Patrick Tilleman(ZAO, TERPANDRE). Lots of flute and sax as well along with the usual rock instruments. I actually discovered Patrick through his nineties project called FORGAS BAND PHENOMENA which is excellent as well. We get a side long suite here of 18 1/2 minutes plus a lot of shorter tracks. This is probably closer to 4.5 stars actually.

"Automne 69" opens with guitar and drums along with upfront bass and I have to say Prevost's bass playing is something special on this album. Soft vocals then keys join in. Light and breezy except for the bass. "Monks(La Danse Des Moines)" opens with this dirty sounding guitar as bass, drums and more help out. Horns too then flute after 2 minutes. The violin then takes over. A killer jam right there. "Reflet D'Ail" opens with flute, guitar and more as the bass kicks in then vocals. Nice sound here. A flute solo just before it ends.

"Coeur Violon" is a short piece with drums, violin and bass standing out. "Orgveil" is another shorty with some interesting guitar as the bass and drums support. "Vol D'Hirondolles" opens with keys as vocal melodies and more join in. It's building, violin too. "Cocktail" is bright and a feel good tune all the way. Sax over top except when the flute leads briefly then the sax returns. "Rituel" is just over a minute of drums, bass, guitar then vocals and keys. "Rhume Des Foins" is catchy with the beats and bass as violin, sax and flute come and go. This trips along beautifully.

"My Trip" has some energy to it with drums, guitar and bass leading early on. Violin and sax will help out as it calms down but contrasts will continue here. The violin gets plenty of face time. It's not until those desperate, urgent sounding vocals arrive that I'm thinking "Oh, it's that kind of trip". I like the section starting around 7 1/2 minutes when it calms down and the focus is on the vocals. Electric piano and bass lead a minute later as the sax comes and goes, no vocals. Violin and vocals lead 11 minutes in. A calm before 14 minutes but nor for long as a sax solo follows. Spoken words after 16 1/2 minutes as the sax steps aside.

The hype is worth it for this particular album and certainly Canterbury fans should check this one out.

Report this review (#2052466)
Posted Saturday, November 3, 2018 | Review Permalink

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