Music Reviews

Artist: Pascal Comelade
Title: Back to Schizo (1975-1983)
Format: CD
Label: Gazul Records
Distributor: Musea Records
Rated: *****
Pascal Comelade is, apparently, a French pioneer of minimal, experimental music dating back to the early days of the synthesizer. The track listings in this compilation of early works spells out the instrumentation used in each, more often things like toy keyboards, toy saxophones and regular acoustic pianos than actual synths (in this case, to be precise, the Synthi EMS-AKS). Clocking in at just over 41 minutes, most of the 26 tracks appear to be not much more than short pieces of sonic wallpaper, in the form of tape loops, chiming and tinkling little abstract melodies, simple scales, and ambient treatments. In a couple of the songs ("Fluence" and "Ready-made 4", tracks numbers 1 and 21) are heard swooshy electric guitar overlays, strongly reminiscent of those on Robert Fripp & Brian Eno's 1973 epic "Heavenly Music Corporation," two years precedent to the starting date of this CD retrospective. (Eno and Michael Nyman are, in fact, listed among his influences.) There may be question as to Comelade's possible influence on important Industrial/EBM ancestors such as Throbbing Gristle or Cabaret Voltaire, but clearly his work is not as truly pioneering as might be assumed.

Nor, in the present time, has he moved on much beyond his toy piano arrangements, or improved his original repertoire. An online look at his more recent catalog reveals weird, ethnic-sounding hybrid titles (seldom with any accompanying audio), and covers of old standards like "September Song" and rock songs like the Stones' "Brown Sugar". Still, monsieur Comelade becomes more and more intriguing the more one listens and investigates--and this reviewer can only conclude that Back to Schizo may be the most promising and logical starting point.

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