Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Catalogue-ANTWERPEN LIVE 11 AUG. 1979 1:30 H BELGIE CD (Spalax, France)

Do a little googlin' and you can find out about the time Catalogue played a jazz festivel in Austria where Cecil Taylor thought their set was great but the jazz critics just couldn't take these Frenchmen's free-play concepts and labeled the whole thing "punk rock". Well, after giving this Jac Berrocal-led improv jazz-rock group a listen to all I gotta say is that both Taylor's enthusiasm and the stodgy critical "acumen" of the jazz establishment are both spot on with regards to Catalogue, who in many ways seems just as apocalyptic end-of-decade full nova as the Contortions, Chrome and all of those acts that used to hang out at Max's Kansas City at the time were. Heck, Catalogue's got even more up-against-it atonality and glorious musical nihilism tossed into their genetic makeup to satiate sublime onlookers such as myself a good three decades after the fact and sometimes that's a pretty Herculean feat in itself!

Berrocal never was known for his adherence to strict tonal formats, and with five-like minded souls performing with him (including guitarist Jean-Francois Pauvros, another prolific Gallic post-jazz adherer) what could anyone expect but a record that starts off with clod-sy rhythms as horns squeal before breaking into a true punk rock (as in 1977 London and all that stuff that frightened way too many people who shoulda known better) rave right before it all turns into a homage to the Eyetalian Futurists proving that what's fifty years when you're making music for the ages like this.

The entire effect is rather free-spirited, or is that free-splat, and at times even THE FAUST TAPES seem to be recalled in between the mock punk and sub-AACM weird instrumental passages (which include glockenspiel, harmonium and toy saxophone), and yeah at times this does sound like it could have been an outtake from a Creative Construction Company session, that's how small-instrument sounding it can get! In all it makes for nice, perhaps even introverted listening and why Rough Trade didn't think of picking up on this 'un thus garnering it some much-needed publicity is quite a mystery to me. After all, in many ways ANTWERPEN fits into the whole Cab Volt/Throbbing Gristle post-rock style and the best thing about it was that you knew this wasn't going to devolve into unlistenable "dance music" once 1980 rolled around!

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