271

Forgas Band Phenomena: Extra-Lucide

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
While Soleil 12 (Cuneiform, 2005) was the first album from French drummer/composer Patrick Forgas' Forgas Band Phenomena to receive international distribution, the group had in fact already released two records in the late 1990s on France's Cosmos Music label. Sadly, Roue Libre is out of print; but the group's sophomore effort, Extra-Lucide, is still available and bears revisiting, if for no other reason than providing a different perspective on the nearly twenty-minute "Pieuvre à la Pluie" that can also be found on Soleil 12.

Forgas has been active since the 1970s, originally travelling the same musical circles as Magma and Zao. But while he shares a similar penchant for progressive music, his vision has always been more closely aligned with the British Canterbury scene and bands like Soft Machine and Hatfield and the North. While it's a challenge to define exactly what the Canterbury scene represents, it is possible to define it as an improvisational cousin to jazz, but with its own distinctive harmonic sensibility. And while complex long-form composition is not foreign to American improvisers like Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays, there has always been a more inherently detailed structural approach to the Canterbury scene and, consequently, to Forgas, who has been called "The French answer to the Canterbury scene."

This pre-Soleil 12 incarnation of Forgas Band Phenomena was a pared-down quintet that shared much in common with guitarist Phil Miller's post-Hatfield band In Cahoots. Bassist Juan-Sebastien Jiminez is a considerably more virtuosic player than Kengo Mochizuki of Soleil 12, closely mirroring In Cahoots bassist Fred T. Baker's intriguing mix of groove and linear acumen. And Forgas' approach to constant shifts in tempo and irregular meters echoes Pip Pyle—a longtime Miller collaborator and bandleader in his own right.

But equally, Extra-Lucide avoids the more idiosyncratic devices typical of Miller's work. While guitarist Mathias Desmier shares a similarly overdriven solo voice, he's a more direct player than Miller, who leans to more acroamatic lines. Keyboardist Gilles Pausanias' electric piano work bears comparison to Hatfield's Dave Stewart—including a certain wryness of phrasing—but his voicings don't possess the same instant recognition factor as Stewart's.

Perhaps it's unfair to assess Forgas strictly by comparison. While the progressive music scene is experiencing something of a renaissance thanks to the internet drawing together a small but devoted international fan base, few groups demonstrate the kind of individuality and innovation that the aforementioned 1970s bands did.

Forgas Band Phenomena may have clear roots in the Canterbury aesthetic, but it's also one of the few bands to carry it forward into the 21st Century. Forgas' episodic compositions retain the kind of thematic foundation prevalent in the Canterbury scene, while the group's players—strong soloists all—manage to avoid the chops-laden and self-indulgent bombast of the American version of fusion. Despite its inherent complexities, Extra-Lucide has terrific crossover appeal. This cerebral music holds interest to be sure, but never at the expense of memorable melodies and demanding yet appealing rhythms.


Track Listing: Extra-Lucide; Rebirth; Pieuvre a la Pluie; Annie Reglisse; Villa Carmen.

Personnel: Patrick Forgas: drums; Mathias Desmier: guitar; Juan-Sebastien Jiminez: bass; Gilles Pausanias: keyboards; Denis Guivarch: saxophone.

Title: Extra-Lucide | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Cosmos Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read No Answer CD/LP/Track Review No Answer
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Backlog" CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Tales From Under" CD/LP/Track Review Tales From Under
by James Nadal
Published: July 5, 2017
Read "Northern Adventures" CD/LP/Track Review Northern Adventures
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 28, 2017
Read "Moments Captured" CD/LP/Track Review Moments Captured
by Andrew Luhn
Published: May 12, 2017
Read "Matador 4" CD/LP/Track Review Matador 4
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: December 31, 2016
Read "On A Monday Evening" CD/LP/Track Review On A Monday Evening
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 22, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.