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3 December 2009

Jacques Berrocal - 'Paralleles' (d'Advantage)

If the Encourager Templates ever catches fire and I can only save one LP, this might be it. Not just because I love it so much but because it's among the scarcest (and therefore most precious) items on the shelf. It's a circus of evaporating jazz and inexplicable surrealism, one that should be in every home and in every microwave oven. One reason it's so is 'Rock and Roll Station', amazing not just because of Stapleton's remake but because the simple introduction of a spoken text suddenly creates a manifesto. This is the 'History Lesson, part 2' for the whole genre of experimental/progressive/Futura/NWW-listy music; whatever you want to call it, it creeps around like a playful penguin clutching a trumpet under his wing. It tells you what music can be, at least to these ears, and to mine (which is all that matters to me). I heard a DJ play it recently and immediately had to go and make friends; it's a call to a secret society, almost. It's funny how this most 'outsider' of music is actually very focused and knowledgeable; the dedication of 'bric-à-brac' to Luigi Russolo shows that Jacques knows his anti-classics (which is probably a good idea when making one yourself). Likewise, the artwork on the back recalls Max Ernst, Dada, all that jazz - and this was a few years before Stapleton himself started explicitly describing his approach to music as a descendent of such. But enough, what about the music? 'bric-à-brac' is so fucking incredible - similar to Jacques' other masterpiece Musiq Musik but with a somewhat more windy, sinewy feel. Pierre Bastien (who we saw earlier, though 20 years later, with some robots of his own) plays contrabassoon and Bernard Vitet's strings are utterly magical, but it's pointless to single out something that is really a group thing. Until now we've not really heard any groupthink quite like this except possibly some of those Art Ensemble sides, but that was definitely rooted in something much more American. These guys, it's like it's from outer space but relatively absent of electronic effects. Hell, one track is Berrocal's solo cornet and it sounds totally amazing. So many sounds here, and yet there's something magical that makes this transcend all the legions of followers since. Maybe I'm a sucker for myths, though it's cool that there's nothing reclusive or obscure about Berrocal - he's around these days, still active, quite approachable and all of this stuff is in print on CD now. Which means, readers, if you don't have this you can probably pull out a credit card and Google your way to surrealist nirvana.

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