Thursday, May 06, 2010

Back to the masterpieces again... the last two late great french... Patrice Meyer

Of these two, the first album Racines Croises (1982) is slightly less stellar and features more solo guitar songs. Quality and sound are very similar to Philip Catherine's best work. Even the augmented chords and patterns of open arpeggios remind a lot of the belgian. There are hard and fast quasi-atonal electric songs a la shylock, insanely chilling imaginative progressive tracks like "escalier" which has some smokin fuzzy sustained guitar effects, gorgeous acoustic self-duets (Mystere en diminue)-- no question two patrice meyers are better than one. I think for the apprentice guitarist this album could pretty much teach you everything about progressive guitar music. Listen, and weep! you pale imitators! The final track is reminiscent of the best vintage Alain Markusfeld, piano and guitar duet. But I can pretty much guarantee that, like the best prog out there, you have never heard melodies or chords like these, no 1-4-5 here, no circle of fifths.

The bona-fide masterpiece is Dromadaire Viennois (1986) which was private pressed-- I guess in the days of MTV even in France it was difficult to put out an album with incredible, conservatory-level composition with mixed zeuhl, jazz, rock, and classical elements. Far from a hodge-podge, it is as cohesive as for example Transit Express or Speed Limit from years earlier. Check out the musicians first of all: Hugh Hopper on bass, Pip Pyle on drums, Didier Malherbe, Henri Texier, Jean-Paul Céléa, etc. How can you go wrong? Well, sometimes even those guys went wrong in the eighties... I wish I had known then, when I was trying to shut out Poison and Twisted Sister, that there was something as beautiful as this out there in the world. But that's the great tragedy of life, appreciation comes long after opportunity. And the other tragedy is to be so completely out of tune with reality. Hey, how many of you fans tell everyone at work about your love for 60-70s prog? Oh, the sad shaking of the head... It's almost as bad as when I tell people I don't eat meat because of climate change. This album would really have to wait 20 years to get a truly adoring audience, like the poet Gerald Manley Hopkins. Although I'm jumping the gun here, since everyone might hate it. The cover seems to be the only condescension to eighties fashion, showing an odd banana-like cocktail, with the pink lettering and black background, you could've been tricked into thinking this was just another new wave album. Ah what a great trick that would've been!

Side A is called "the quartet". Amusante Clementine opens with some drumming intro and a repeated 4 note bass riff and moves into some really nice energetic jazzy rock instrumental. Dromadaire Viennios is very much Jacques Thollot, I think clearly Meyer too had a classical musical education. An operatic soprano sings an obbligato over almost baroque chords and flute. But be patient-- like Thollot's stuff, the song quickly slips into progressive chords and some badass electric jamming.

In Rasoir our genius combines a Holst Mars drumming and martial bass rhythm with an incredibly dramatic chord progression moving up in minor seconds and then back down again... the impression is of a huge army marching in the night, an army of robots maybe, or zombies with mullets armed with electric guitars that transform into assault rifles, and with armored shoulder pads, with which to blow away the "new kids on the block" fans... before stopping for some super big gulps at 7-11. Pay attention to the electric guitar solo, which is as far from a standard blues rock solo as you can get, pretty much atonal, give Arnie Schoenberg an axe and let him wail away! I would have loved to have been there in 1986 to play this for people. Although let's not forget even in those days there was a huge fan base of jazz and fusion who could have enjoyed this (less so now probably).
To close we have a side-long composition "Cinq Bucoliques":
a) Les Flocons D'Avoine
b) La Valse Lydienne
c) L'Ecole Buissonniere
d) La Retenue
e) La Recreation
A (very brief) acoustic and soprano intro leads to an acoustic guitar solo with some eerie cello sustained notes. As usual with french music a flute plays atop, feeling very left out but trying to push its way in with some very interesting melodies. We get a middle passage that is very Patrick Gauthier-post-zeuhl, french singing on top of a zeuhl pattern played, believe it or not, by strings! Presumably this is Lécole. Of course the track closes out on a faster note, oddly discordant is a 40s jazz doo-wop passage near the end.
So I present to you some more lost masterpieces, please keep these alive until a better day comes for us.


Tristan Stefan said... racines dromedaire

Progboy said...

Thank for these albums!
The links don't work

isabelbc said...

hi Progboy,

the links works very well

Isabel :o)

Progboy said...

Great! Greatest site around :)

Anonymous said...

Ehm, impressive and creative high class stuff. The best Oldfield in french cut. Inusite elegance like in an old classic austrian Valzer.

Anonymous said...

thanks to viz !

Steve H said...

Thank you for these, Tristan. I don't know how I missed this guy's solo stuff -- I'm a big Hugh Hopper fan, and also dig Henri Texier. Have you heard any of Nels Cline's trio recordings? The context is different, but the guitar style and some of the ideas are so similar, I can't help thinking Nels was a fan.

Harmonium said...

Link for Dromadaire Viennois is dead.
Could you re-up it, please?
Thanks in advance!

isabelbc said...

new links
racines ->
dromedaire ->

Anonymous said...

The link for Dromadaire does not work any more.
Thanks in advance for a reupload!

Anonymous said...

The link for Dromadaire Viennois is dead.
Would you please re-upload it?
Thanks in advance!

Anonymous said...

Hi any chance of a re-up on Dromadaire it has been deleted due to inactivity - Many Thanks Stuart

Robin Anderson said...


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