Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Jacques Berrocal - 'Catalogue' (Alga Marghen)

This is the third piece of the puzzle, reissued in a digipak by Alga Marghen with some bonus material. I'll spare my usual rant about digipaks and instead thank the Marghens for bringing this gem to the surface again. Where Musiq Musik is exploratory improvised deconstruction and Paralleles introduces more surrealist trope, Catalogue goes full-on collage style and presents 17 different sides of Berrocal in 17 tracks. Nothing is safe here. Electronics and tapes, for sure, put this alongside the weirdest fringes of LAFMS or other outsider camps -- yet there's also simplistic instrumental interplay that harkens back to Musiq's joy di vivré. 'friedrich trass' and 'tango' both use toy instruments to construct surrealist miniatures, and we get vocal manipulations galore. A big band sound appears too, creaking along on 'JONCTION' and 'Rideau. 'SOLO' splits the record with a strangely operatic Gregorian chant and there's some rock excursions too ('nO mORE dirTY bLa blApS' and 'signe particulier', which make me think of something Zorn would do, but not Naked City). Catalogue is a great title because this really is a compendium of maverick approaches to sound. I think the diversity of this release always made it the Berrocal record I found it hardest to interact with, but on this listen I'm totally stoked. It's almost like a desert island disc of ideas; the only frustrating factor is that the ideas are rarely given enough space to develop. If you like making weird music yourself, this is cool, because you can take these tracks inspiration and crosspollinate these ideas with your own, unless you're hellbent on being 100% original. I don't think I'd mind hearing someone else riffing on 'néon' or 'terminal'. I'd definitely put this in a special box alongside stuff like the first Anal Magic disc, because they came from some fucked up place, disappeared and 30 years later provide a treasure map of exploration for all of us young believers. The (mostly live) bonus tracks are nothing to scoff at either; they only pad the record out to 47 minutes instead of stuffing the disc, an act of restraint that I quite like.

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