"French drummer/composer Patrick Forgas does things like make records based on Moisset's philosophic writings (Synchronicité) and write fusion-soaked symphonies epically long (Soleil 12) and majestically winding. That's what it takes to lead a fluctuating unit (usually between seven and eight members) easily comparable to Carla Bley at her wily frenetic finest. That Forgas has not made many albums since his 1977 debut is our loss. Yet there's a potently sexual urgency to this newest Axis that points towards Forgas's need, perhaps, to make up for lost time.

With only bassist Kengo Mochizuki and keyboardist Igor Brover remaining from previous Band incarnations, L'Axe du Fou's four tracks benefit from raw-powered freshness, as if trumpeter Dimitri Alexaline, saxophonist Sébastien Trognon and violinist Karolina Mlodecka were playing to impress the boss and his managers. The oddly metered "Double-Sens" offers the ensemble an opportunity to serpentine through the Serengeti. And though rich, this album is sharp, succinct and more streamlined than Forgas's last efforts, more dependent upon intimate rococo intricacies than big-picture blasts. Blame that on the tightly wound compositions whose manias are reined in by Forgas and Mochizuki's insistent rhythms as well on the band's ability to be as somnolent ("La Clef") as it is vigorous ("L'Axe du Fou").

Throughout this tight tangle, each man and woman gets opportunities to blast forth. And no one takes advantage of that as much as Benjamin Violet, the Forgas Band Phenomena guitarist who undergoes frantic mood swings every time he's at bat".

A.D. Amorosi


"Composer and multi-instrumentalist, Patrick Forgas has been making music for the last four decades, and now in the heart of his fifth one, he still has not run out of ideas to put into musical forms. His fourth album with his current band, Forgas Band Phenomena, a 7-piece instrumental ensemble, is a brilliant musical saga entitled L’Axe du Fou, which translated into English is Axis of Madness. Consisting of four individual compositions with each one containing several movements or subplots that transport the listener through a sonic maze moving subtly through transient episodes and passages of lavish décor.

Though Forgas’ first language is his native French, his album speaks in all languages, transcending the barriers that separate nationalities and music genres. His compositions and arrangements display elements of orchestral-jazz, ambient-rock, and progressive-bop with ethnic accents based in Eastern Europe cultures, the Middle East, and the Latin World. It is as if he pulls various influences out of the air, and transforms these bits and pieces that he grabs into magnificent complexes of multi-textured broths. Forgas never lets go of his high standards, making every track elaborate and melodically intriguing for the listener.

Beginning the sage with “La Clef” (The Key), Forgas and his ensemble takes audiences through challenging twists and expansive vignettes which contain taut squeezing in the violin strings performed by Karolina Mlodecka collared by Spanish-style blares in the horns played by saxophonist/flautist Sébastien Trognon and trumpeter/flugelhornist Dimitri Alexaline. Keyboardist Igor Brover plays a strip of tingling and babbling keys along the base of the title track as guitarist Benjamin Violet breaks through the melodic swirls of the horns and violin with piercing rock-tinged riffs. The rhythm section of bassist Kengo Mochizuki and drummer Patrick Forgas holds the reins of the place as it rises into a whirlwind of ravenous gales which pass and become a mild stroll of twinkling keys garnished in lightly puffing horns. The dynamics in the piece are complex with explosive tossing and intricately woven layers. It requires a mind that can be in several places at once.

The whispery trail of violin strings forged along “Double Sens” (Double Entendre) opens up into a topiary of progressive-bop flora and orchestral-jazz fauna shaded in lovely ambient hues. The piece has a trance-like pull on listeners reeling them in and making them feel like they are floating on top of the melody. It’s very surreal and allows audiences to escape into another world, even as the movements intensify into a series of tightly knotted squeals in the horns and fiery guitar riffs, which are then released just as swiftly as they came into the piece. Sudden shifts are transient and poignant to the melodic composition causing an interruption that brings about another level to the piece.

The final number “La 13eme Lune” (The 13th Moon) showcases the slow simmering bass lines of Mochizuki crowned by swiveling violin strings and slinky smooth jazz horns creating a saucy puree. It is an introspective piece with overtones of sorrow and determination to push beyond the blockage of joy. There is an upbeat pulse in the undertow that draws the listener into this piece, and an inner struggling that creates slashing episodes of striking guitar chords and a plumage of horns to emerge and culminate into a grand finale.

The Forgas Band Phenomena create music that is designed to make an impact on audiences. These are pieces that are meant to grab the audiences attention, and hold them in a trance-like state as the ensemble goes through the various movements and transitional shifts. The movements are transient as the musicians make their way through the episodes, always scouring the ground that they just came from so it is permanently changed. The music has a progressive edge that makes it feel intangible to grasp, and yet, its melodic make-up is pleasing. It is an album with no wrong turns, only the ensemble’s ingenuity in its prime".

Susan Frances


"Forgas Band Phenomena was formed in the late Nineties by French drummer Patrick Forgas (whose début album, Cocktail, was recently reissued by Musea Records). L’Axe Du Fou is their fourth album, released as a seven-piece four years after the live album Soleil 12, which was their first release with the US label Cuneiform. At the time of writing, the band is scheduled to perform at the 2010 edition of the North-East Art Rock Festival (NEARFest) – a yearly event taking place in the month of June in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA.

Four years after the release of Soleil 12, Patrick Forgas returns with a partially revamped lineup (including two of his former collaborators, Igor Brover and Kengo Mochizuki, plus four new musicians), and an absolute stunner of an album. This is one of those discs that manages to exude an authentically progressive feel, and where the inevitable influences are seamlessly worked into the fabric of the music in such a way as to become an essential component of the overall sound. In reviews of Forgas’ work (both as a solo artist and with his band) frequently crop up comparisons with the Canterbury scene – quite an adequate description for someone who is occasionally tagged as the French Robert Wyatt. In spite of the fluid, hard-to-pinpoint nature of that sound, some of its outstanding features are at least in part displayed quite noticeably on this album (and also on Forgas’ debut, Cocktail, reviewed here). Just like the Canterbury bands, Forgas Band Phenomena manages to achieve that fine, often elusive balance between complexity and lightness of touch. Their music impresses for its apparently loose, yet highly disciplined structure, and the technical skills of the individual players, but at the same time brings a smile to your face – the polar opposite of all those bands or artists that seem to enjoy wallowing in misery and gloom. It is ‘serious’ music that somehow manages to be uplifting – no mean feat in the world of progressive rock, where, all too often, depressing content is seen as a quality rather than a flaw. L’Axe du Fou (Axis of Madness) is a compact album whose four tracks range from the 8 minutes of "La 13ème Lune" to the 16 of the title-track.

Unlike the compositions featured on Soleil 12, which dated back from the early days of Forgas’ activity as a musician, most of the tracks were written in the three years previous to the album’s release, while the intro to "La Clef" originally belonged to a never-recorded 1997 composition. Clocking in at slightly under 50 minutes, it has the ideal running time for an album that is amazingly dense on a musical level, even though not as intimidating as more left-field fare. The band functions like a mini-orchestra, all the instruments striving together to produce an impressive, though never overdone or overwhelming, volume of sound. While the leading instruments are clearly the horns, sax and violin, the contribution of the other musician is essential. Patrick Forgas and bassist Kengo Mochizuki lay down a groundwork of sophisticated subtlety, driving the music along at a steady pace, without pyrotechnics, but with unfailing reliability. However, it is the commanding performance of Polish-born violinist Karolina Mlozecka, and her extraordinary mastery of her instrument, that proves to be the album’s single most important feature.

At a first listen, the tracks may sound deceptively alike, which might give the listener an impression of monotony. This, however, could not be further from the truth. As a whole, the compositions might be described as a sort of beautifully controlled chaos that holds together superbly, a rich texture of instrumental prowess and melodic warmth. "La Clef" opens briskly, with upbeat horns and a nicely stubborn guitar line over an understated, yet excellent rhythmic backdrop. The instruments often appear on the stage all at the same time, but without the confusing, overblown feel that might result from such a situation. The track alternates sedate, wistful, violin-led passages with more intense ones, interspersed by the blaring of the horns and the jazz-tinged exertions of the sax, while the keyboards provide a discreet but noticeable accompaniment.

The title-track displays a more definite rock bent, courtesy of Benjamin Violet’s clear-sounding guitar, which adds a note of electric intensity to the proceedings, sometimes vying for attention with Mlozecka’s scintillating violin. The fabric of the composition is somewhat more uneven than in the previous effort, the rockier passages shifting into lyrical, flowing sections, or jazzy ones with an almost Latin flavour – undoubtedly an effort of astounding complexity, whose many twists and turns are skilfully and tastefully realized, rather than flung in your face in a ‘look what I can do’ manner.

After this exhilarating ride, "Double-Sens" almost lulls the listener into expecting something a bit more relaxed. The first half of the track is indeed distinguished by its understated approach, giving an impression of smooth serenity, quite entrancing in its own way, with all the instruments sounding gentle and muted rather than assertive – when, almost all of a sudden, the band shifts into high gear, the melody of the previous sections turning into a dissonant maelstrom, punctuated by an offbeat sax solo. Then, as if nothing had occurred, the music starts flowing calmly and beautifully once again, all the instruments working in lockstep, and a distinct Canterbury feel in the keyboard textures and violin work that reminded me of Caravan circa For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night. A full-tilt guitar solo in the best rock tradition adds some spice to the final part of the track.

"La 13ème Lune" brings the album to a close with more Canterbury references, especially in the steady underlying rhythm pattern. Subtle, almost melancholy at the beginning, with the flute lending a welcome pastoral touch, it gradually gains momentum, with distorted guitar chords, speedier drumming and energetic horn bursts leading to a typical rock’n’roll-style ending. I am aware that the above description does not really do justice to the beauty of L’Axe Du Fou, an album that needs to be savoured without any hurry in order to grasp its full import. As my rating clearly shows, it is one of those rare, practically perfect offerings that are a real credit to the whole progressive rock genre. Forgas Band Phenomena are a brilliant outfit that deserve much more exposure than they have had so far – I, for one, will be looking forward to any future releases from them.

Undoubtedly one of the best releases of the past year, L’Axe du Fou is a highly sophisticated, yet curiously accessible album that can be safely recommended to all progressive rock fans. Indeed, there is enough complexity to please lovers of more demanding stuff, and enough melody to make it pleasing to the ear of those who prize listenable potential above all. With stunning musicianship and flawless composition on display, this is a disc that deserves the highest rating at my disposal".

Raffaella Berry


"Forgas Band Phenomena is a pretty interesting case in modern progressive music. Not just because Axis Of Madness is the first studio album in nearly ten years to be offered up under that title, but also because (if the amount of ratings and reviews are any indication) hardly anybody here seems to know who the hell they are. Hopefully my review will excite a few people into trying them out. Let me start out by saying that every track on this release is a gem, and it has no weak point. Tough to swallow? Read on...

After my first time listening to the entirety of the record, I had a sort of afterglow about me. I knew I had just listened to something very remarkable and beautiful, but I don't think you'll ever be able to realize for yourself just how special of a recording this is until you experience it for yourself. Patrick Forgas, drummer and composer extraordinaire, has brought together an elite group of musicians to create one of the finest instrumental works I have ever laid ears on.

All of the instruments featured on the record have their own role to play, and there is very little overlap. I think perhaps the album's biggest strength is the large amount of instruments against the very small amount of repetition. If you hear a new riff enter the scene, chances are you won't be hearing it again unless it's intentionally done as a recurring theme within the track. This happens once or twice perhaps, but never over long periods of time, and frankly I'm fine with that. It ensures that the music continues to press forward without lingering. The sense of pacing and flow never leaves the music despite this, and it's achieved with such grace and seemingly little effort that as a songwriter it makes me very jealous of Forgas' obviously fantastic abilities as a composer. Never a repetitive moment, yet it still feels accurate and together. I never felt like the music was veering off into left field despite the vast amount of ground each tracks manages to cover.

Something this band is impeccably good at is allowing each instrument their space. In a lineup with so many different instruments present, that is not easy to do. But they somehow pull it off time and again. Never does the music feel crowded, but always does it feel heartfelt and fresh. There is such a risk for the compositions to get carried away with themselves here, yet they simply don't. Everything is as it should be, and the perfect balance is always maintained. Very impressive, especially in current times when instrument-heavy music always seems to lead to senseless wankery and boring guitar solos. Most of the leads are handled by everything but the familiar six-stringed instrument, which is a breath of fresh air as far as I am concerned. Benjamin Violet is no slouch by any means, but his role in the band isn't to outshine everybody else. He takes more of a rhythmic role and when he does in fact solo, it's always very atmospheric and tasteful - a concept plenty of modern guitarists seem to have no knowledge of.

What this amounts to is basically one of the most beautiful complete records I've ever heard, certainly when it comes to instrumental music. I cannot even begin to describe the way in which this moves me. If you haven't picked up this album yet, you have no idea what a wonderful experience you are depriving yourself of. You may have simply never heard of this music before. If you haven't, there are two things I have to say: 1) Shame on you, and 2) Remain in the dark no longer and pick yourself up a copy of this brilliant, brilliant album.

Just as Pink Floyd, Yes and King Crimson paved the way for forward-thinking music back in the day, bands such as Forgas Band Phenomena are doing the same in modern times. It is a true shame that my article will only bring this album's review count up to four so far. On a site that houses such a rich variety of creative music, why is it I only see the same handful of bands being recognized in the majority of reviews I read? That tradition needs to halt, as far as I am concerned. Nothing is wrong with favoring the giants of this musical attitude we call 'prog', but to be completely oblivious of such works as this is not much short of a sin. Past artists you may know such as Mahavishnu Orchestra or Jean-Luc Ponty have a few things in common with this group, so if you like them, you should find something to love in this recording. However, make no mistake; just because there are similarities doesn't mean Forgas Band Phenomena lacks originality. On the contrary, this is some of the most original music you'll be likely to hear all year. Just know that they have more in common musically with Maneige than, say, Genesis.

Any serious music enthusiast should not be without this album in her collection, I sincerely mean that. Two five-star reviews in a row for me? Hey, when this brilliant of music is involved, you'd better believe it. Another rousing masterpiece that rivals anything else, in any genre, anywhere. I dare you to listen to this work and not adore it.

Sweet journeys".


BIG BANG (link)

"Pour ceux qui connaissent et apprécient le groupe de Patrick Forgas, chaque nouvel album est une double réjouissance : au plaisir de retrouver de nouvelles plages à déguster d'une musique peu commune, s'ajoute en effet la satisfaction de voir concrètement la passion d'un musicien se perpétuer sans compromis. Face au légitime découragement de certains, le batteur (dont l'abnégation ne date pas d'hier) témoigne en effet d'une insolente santé et d'un optimisme à toute épreuve !

Sans rien d'autre à partager que son immense ferveur, sa formation, initialement constituée en 1993, a longtemps souffert d'une inévitable instabilité. De façon incroyable et sans temps mort, notre homme est pourtant toujours parvenu à rebondir. Aujourd'hui, justement, la cohésion renforcée des effectifs apparait comme un nouvel atout : aux fidèles Igor Brover aux claviers et Kengo Mochizuki à la basse, déjà présents sur le Soleil 12 de 2005, sont venus s'ajouter depuis 2007, Karolina Mlodecka au violon, Dimitri Alexaline à la trompette et Sébastien Trognon aux saxophones, puis enfin le petit dernier, Benjamin Violet à la guitare.

L'équipe s'avère ainsi, désormais, la plus stable que Forgas ait jamais réunie - et sans aucun doute la plus soudée, si l'on se réfère à la complicité évidente qui émanait fortement des récents concerts. Il faut dire aussi qu'une improbable participation au Guro-Gu Festival à Séoul (Corée du Sud) a assurément contribué à renforcer les liens, et ouvert espérons-le de nouvelles perspectives motivantes (d'autres incursions hors de l'Hexagone sont envisagées).

Au terme de la trilogie Roue Libre - Extra-Lucide - Soleil 12, sans vraiment s'attendre à un bouleversement, on pouvait tout de même envisager quelques changements significatifs. Une première écoute suffira pour se rendre compte qu'il n'est aucunement question de rupture. Si on peut parler d'évolution, celle-ci est en parfaite logique avec ce qui précède. L’Axe du Fou reconduit en effet, sans en délaisser aucune, l'ensemble des valeurs qui fondent l'originalité du compositeur, et qui avaient été largement décrites dans notre chronique de Soleil 12.

S’il est juste d'évoquer, pour présenter sa musique, les éternelles références que sont Soft Machine et plus généralement l'école de Canterbury, il semble plus judicieux et important de souligner aujourd'hui combien son écriture est, en fait, personnelle et identifiable : il n'est pas un seul des innombrables thèmes du nouvel album qui ne soit clairement signé.

Découvrir des morceaux en concert n'est pas toujours le moyen idéal pour s'en faire une idée judicieuse, mais la musique du Forgas Band Phenomena fait clairement exception. On peut même aller jusqu'à dire qu'il n'existe pas de meilleure façon d'aborder et goûter le potentiel des nouvelles compositions.

Deux raisons principales fondent ce constat. D'une part, parce que la performance instrumentale est régulièrement requise, notamment à l'occasion des chorus, à la fois nombreux et succints. Cet aspect, sollicitant souvent l'improvisation, profite pleinement de l'instant, et valorise un éphémère facile à éprouver. D'autre part, la composante écrite, très largement dominante, demeure constamment mélodique et franchement accessible, de sorte qu'elle est extrêmement efficace dès la première audition.

Peut-être est-ce là justement l'effet de leur découverte "live" au Triton, mais les quatre titres de la cuvée 2009 apparaissent particulièrement accrocheurs. Une chose est sûre, en tout cas : sans être plus complexe, le propos s'avère nettement plus dense. Il faut vraiment avoir le total des durées sous le nez pour croire que l'album dure bien 50 minutes, tant l'intensité et la versatilité préservent du moindre ennui. Le groupe, dont c'est une marque de fabrique, nous avait bien sûr habitués aux multiples rebondissements et aux plus saisissants contrastes. Mais ceux-ci se succèdent désormais à un rythme accru et plus régulier, conférant à l'ensemble du CD une forte homogénéité.

«Double-Sens», qui à l'origine (dans les versions jouées sur scène en 2006-07) durait quelque 35 minutes, a particulièrement bénéficié de ce traitement, puisqu'une rigoureuse réécriture l'a concentré sur moins de la moitié (13:50), dont de surcroît un bon tiers est totalement neuf.

Une autre démarche contribue à tenir en haleine du début à la fin : elle consiste en un avantageux rééquilibrage sonore et une rapide alternance instrumentale. Ainsi, sans même parler de la fausse filiation qu'elle pouvait induire auprès d'un public néophyte, la prédominance du saxophone laisse place à une plus juste répartition (plus rares, les interventions de sax n'en sont que plus délectables), dans laquelle le violon tient une place de choix; cela dit, Karolina Mlodecka diversifie elle-même constamment ses registres, que ce soit sur le plan du jeu ou celui des sons (un aspect encore accentué en concert), de la même façon que le bugle, la flûte traversière ou la trompette bouchée contribuent au constant renouvellement de la palette mise en œuvre.

Enfin, à ce titre, il faut spécialement souligner le rôle bénéfique du prodigieux guitariste Benjamin Violet. Sa délirante exubérance, qu'exploite idéalement la partie déjantée de «L'Axe du Fou» (16:32), évoque un peu (en plus marqué) Mathias Desmier, dont il fut un temps l'élève. On rêverait de voir Igor Brover sortir plus souvent de sa réserve pour lui donner le change dans un rôle plus en pointe, avec des sons appropriés; mais ce n'est peut-être pas si évident, tant son rôle à l'arrière-plan est fondamental (autant qu'irréprochable).

Un autre élément vient conforter l'enthousiasme qui entoure la sortie de ce nouvel album : il ne comporte plus de vieux matériel, du moins rien d'antérieur à la présente décennie. Cette relative fraîcheur associe à la réussite de l'ensemble l'idée d'une progression, alors qu'on aurait pu croire le groupe à son maximum. Ainsi, après avoir présenté Soleil 12 comme le meilleur album du Forgas Band Phenomena, il pourrait sembler exagéré d'en dire autant aujourd'hui de L'Axe du Fou. C'est pourtant bien le cas. Dans le même ordre d'idée, on peut également mentionner le fait qu'après l'excellent concert du Triton, celui qui suivit au château d'Auvers-sur-Oise fut meilleur encore.

Face à cette impressionnante dynamique, on doit cependant déplorer l'apathie du public français, dont l'expérience d'une seule prestation scénique suffirait pourtant, pour beaucoup, à déclencher l'enthousiasme. Alors que l'on fête fastueusement les 40 ans de Magma, qui se repose essentiellement sur un âge d'or de plus en plus lointain, peut-être serait-il judicieux de saluer à sa juste valeur une carrière qui semble, à l'inverse, suivre une courbe éternellement ascendante, et ce depuis plus de trois décennies. Avec sa formation actuelle (qui se permet, à l'occasion d'une reprise sur la compilation Hur!, de rendre aussi hommage aux tout débuts du groupe de Christian Vander), Patrick Forgas force le respect, et se doit d'être enfin largement reconnu à sa juste valeur... même si nous le savons aujourd'hui, et plus que jamais, irréductible !".

Laurent Métayer


"There has been a relatively short gap between Forgas Band Phenomena's L'Axe du Fou and Soleil 12 (Cuneiform, 2005)—four years, as opposed to the six between Soleil and the out-of-print Extra Lucide (Cosmos, 1999)—but plenty has happened. Drummer Patrick Forgas' longstanding group has been almost completely revamped - only bassist Kengo Mochizuki and keyboardist Igor Brover remain - and with the departing altoist Denis Guivarc'h, his octet has trimmed down to a septet.

With Soleil's captivating material dating back a considerable number of years—in some cases as far back as the '70s—L'Axe du Fou's four tracks, on the other hand, represent some of Forgas' most recent writing. And while the annoyance of dealing with personnel changes delayed the music from being recorded, it was ultimately a good thing. The already lengthy "Double-Sens" - nearly 14 minutes of episodic, smooth yet irregularly metered lyricism with solo features for the all-around impressive trumpeter Dimitri Alexaline, saxophonist Sebastien Trognon, pianist Brover, and violinist Karolina Mlodecka - is a far cry from its original, massive 35 minutes. Sometimes recording in the studio as opposed to live provides the opportunity to assess the music and adjust it before letting it out, making L'Axe du Fou Forgas' most concise and streamlined writing to date, with little in the way of excess or overstatement.

While FBP has always been stylistically compared to the British Canterbury scene—and rightly so—in particular with groups like Hatfield and the North, National Health and Phil Miller's In Cahoots, L'Axe du Fou does begin to widen the gap, lending FBP a more singular and distinctive voice. A greater reliance on horns and violin with less on the more conventional guitar-keys-bass-drums line-ups of many Canterbury groups (though horns are by no means strangers to some), FBP has always been a playing band, and even in the more sterile confines of the studio, it proves capable of the kind of energy more normally associated with live performance. Forgas and Mochizuki form a relentless rhythm section capable of navigating the drummer's knotty compositional twists and turns, as well as firm grooves that support energetic solos from everyone including guitarist Benjamin Violet, who demonstrates a chameleon-like ability to turn from clean, supporting arpeggios on the brisk yet brooding "La Clef" to searing rapid-fire phrases at the end of the 16-minute title track.

While brief moments of extreme are peppered throughout L'Axe du Fou's nearly 50-minutes, the emphasis is on strong melody, driven by ever-shifting rhythmic and harmonic foundations that ensure plenty of solo space. If new music from Forgas is as good as this, let's hope he continues the winning streak and, with the ability to retain a consistent line-up, continue to produce music this full of vim and vigour".

John Kelman


"The Forgas Band Phenomena whips up a mighty mix of jazz-rock fusion that taps on many of that music's sources, yet injects new energy and a few contemporary ideas of their own. For those of you who grew up on the Return to Forever/Mahavishnu Orchestra / Weather Report strain of modern jazz, you will love this group. Drummer/composer Patrick Forgas has formed this updated, European-based band with new members to revise older compositions and add new ones, all in extended form and with vital, stretched-out, developed melodies and precise, compact solos. The distinct Euro edge of classic Canterbury art rock minus the abject self-indulgence, Forgas has sculpted extremely listenable music that keeps nostalgia to a minimum. "La Clef" starts the program and grabs you with its kinetic energy, as the violin of Karolina Mlodecka and trumpeter Dimitri Alexaline streamline a melody in 10/8 time effortlessly, with a tasteful 6/8 section that provides a lot to like over 11 minutes. The sixteen-and-a-half minute title track is not as wicked as the title suggests, but weaves in and out from common-sense lines to wild abandon in 5/4 and 9/8 time signatures to a 7/8 electric guitar passage from Benjamin Violet echoing the Jean-Luc Ponty edition of Mahavishnu. Where "Double-Sens" is much more delicate in its patient minimalism, a funky organ riff in 6/8 from Igor Brover with lilting sax and violin form attractive, parallel, counter melody lines that are whole and fresh. The piece closest to pure rock is "La 13ème Lune," a convergent road song where heavy beats in 6/8 and 2/4 meet Baroque-type dynamics with Sébastien Trognon's flute and Mlodecka's pepped-up violin. Forgas plays a solid and steady drum kit alongside bassist Kengo Mochizuki, but his highly intelligent and crafted compositions are the kind of jazz everyone can enjoy, and that baby boomers will not only relate to, but be startled by. There's no mincing words about the Phenomena tag this band is proud to own — terrific music made by a wonderful band that cannot be a trade secret for too much longer. Viva Forgas !".

Michael G. Nastos

MONSIEUR DÉLIRE (blog) (link)

"Drummer Patrick Forgas delivers with L’Axe du Fou the best album in his career. Modernized jazz-rock, well thought out, creative, tight, with long but well articulated compositions. There’s an influence from the Canterbury style, but also from the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Yet, the band has its own sound. And it’s an impressive septet displaying a great level of ensemble playing. The title track and “La 13ème Lune” are particularly strong. The band will be at the 2010 NEARFest. Let’s hope for a few more North-American dates – maybe one at the Montreal Jazz Festival? My fingers are crossed!".

"Le batteur Patrick Forgas offre ici le meilleur disque de sa carrière. Un jazz-rock actualisé bien senti, serré, créatif, aux pièces longues mais bien articulées. Influence du style Canterbury, mais aussi du Mahavishnu Orchestra, mais surtout un son bien à lui. Et un septet de musiciens impressionnants, avec un excellent jeu d’ensemble. La pièce titre et “La 13ème Lune” sont particulièrement réussies. Le groupe sera de l’édition 2010 du NEARFest, avec peut-être une petite tournée nord-américaine? Un passage au festival de jazz de Montréal peut-être? Souhaitons-le".

François Couture

CADENCE (link)

'French drummer Patrick Forgas has been playing since the late ’70s, inspired by the European prog stylings of the time. He’s played on and off since then, leading various configurations of his group Forgas Band Phenomena. This new release features Forgas’ current version of the group and their tightly orchestrated approach to his lushly arranged compositions draws a straight line back to groups like Soft Machine, National Health, and fusion groups like Jean-Luc Ponty era Frank Zappa. There are all the trademarks; the tricky time signatures and hop scotch shifts; polished flurries of reeds, electric keyboards, guitar riffs, and soaring violin virtuosity. Forgas leverages the instrumentation, voicing reeds, trumpet, and electric keyboards for lush harmonies and then letting violinist Karolina Mlodecka loose over the top. Guitarist Benjamin Violet is oddly understated for this kind of setting though. The leader’s lithe, fractured rhythms and Mochizuki’s percolating electric bass course along underneath. The long suite-like pieces allow plenty of room for the musicians to stretch out. One’s appetite for this session depends upon a fond memory for music of a particular time. Forgas and crew don’t add much new to the formula, but they execute it well'.

Michael Rosenstein


"L'Axe du Fou is the fourth album by FBP and their first studio recording in seven-and-a-half years. The difficulty of assembling and rehearsing a jazz septet -- let alone finding paying gigs for them -- should not be minimized in these days of musical isolationism.

This set differs somewhat from the first 3 in the following ways. First, the new violinist is moved to center stage, taking most of the solos and being mixed front-and-center. There was a violinist (a different one) in the last album, but you have to listen carefully to even hear him. Here, young Polish violinist Karolina Mlodecka comes across as almost a Jerry Goodman/Jean-Luc Ponty figure, leading the band and dominating the sound. This is not a good or a bad thing, just different from previous FBP records.

Second, Axis of Madness is full of devious rhythms and tricky time signatures, with 4s playing against 5s, 7s playing against 5s, and all sorts of other combinations it would take a mathematician to unravel. Time signatures shift frequently and unpredictably, and obviously Forgas put a great deal of time into concocting this tour de force. The soloists are given some latitude to improvise within the structures given, but drummer Patrick Forgas and his long-time bassist Kengo Mochizuki manage to keep together a rumbling momentum which forever seems on the verge of flying apart.

Third, perhaps because of the increased rhythmic complexity, none of the four extended tunes here approaches the hummable tunefulness of the earlier albums. In fact you'd be hard-pressed to identify any "head" at all to these jazz tunes. There are sections of unison playing, and themes which come and go, but nothing much in the way of a thematic development or logical arc to these four long suites. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it makes the music denser and easier to experience repeatedly without being able to anticipate it. Certainly it marks a prominent maturation of Forgas' composing skills.

But like all challenging music it isn't easy listening".

Robert Carlberg


"Often referred to as France's leading exponent of Canterbury-scene-type jazz-rock, drummer/composer Patrick Forgas has been making albums since 1977, but this edition of his seven-piece band has been together only eighteen months or so.

They play relatively complex but free-flowing composed pieces, packed with fascinating detail and often set to comparatively tricksy rhythms, but always sparked by easily memorable tunes.

Forgas himself is at the centre of the band's sound, precise and neat yet irresistibly propulsive where required, and he deploys his instrumental forces with great skill, setting up his trademark galloping rhythms for the likes of guitarist Benjamin Violet, trumpeter Dimitri Alexaline and saxophonist Sébastien Trognon to solo over.

Tight and disciplined, but exuberantly powerful at its carefully built climaxes, this is tasteful, polished jazz-rock that uncontrivedly combines all the lightly borne virtuosity frequently associated with the former genre with the viscerally affecting punch and drive of the latter – wholeheartedly recommended, especially to anyone lamenting the apparent dearth of contemporary great exponents of the style pioneered by the likes of Soft Machine and Hatfield and the North".

Chris Parker

THE LASER'S EDGE (mail-order catalogue) (link)

"FLOW... That is the first word that pops into your mind when you hear this stunning disc. The music has an organic feel as each member of this 7 piece ensemble interacts with such fluidity its as of one mind. Highly composed and controlled there is a confidence and maturity about Patrick Forgas's compositions that shines through. The ensemble consists of guitar, violin, bass, drums, keys, trumpet/flugelhorn, and tenor/soprano sax and flute. Consisting of just 4 extended compositions, this will remind you of a variety of sources - from National Health, Jean Luc Ponty (in particular), Zappa, and Soft Machine. Highest recommendation and already a candidate for one of 2009's best".

Ken Golden


"L'Axe du Fou, which retains only Forgas, keyboardist Igor Brover and bassist Kengo Mochizuki from the previous line-up, added the vibrant "La Clef", in which the instruments take shifts at singing variations on the main theme at a rabid pace (with a nice contrast between the youthful fibrillations of the violin and the calm meditations of the reeds), "L'Axe Du Fou" (16:32), in which a neoclassical flute and a hard-rocking guitar form the counterpoint for ethereal saxophone phrases (but the highlight might be the way the leitmotiv gets deconstructed into cascading piano notes) although the piece meanders a bit in the second inconclusive half (almost reminiscent of new-agey jazz-rock), and a "short" excerpt of "Double-Sens" (13:50), that opens with a violin-driven section worthy of a neoclassical ballet and weaves that strand with hints of Soft Machine's electronic jazz-rock (that prevails in the second half). The sound on this album is almost baroque. Karolina Mlodecka, in particular, takes her place among the greatest rock violinists of all times".

Piero Scaruffi

ZNR (mail-order catalogue) (link)

"Another fine example of why the French guys really 'get' jazz fusion. This isn't fusion in the Return To Forever/Mahavishnu Orchestra sense, but rather in the 'ECM Records would be great if they had more compositional emphasis' sense. Imagine the first National Health album crossed with Zappa's Grand Wazoo and you kind of get the idea !".

Steve Roberts

HARMONIE Magazine (link)

"L’Axe du Fou, le titre du nouvel album du Forgas Band Phenomena, ne révèlerait-il pas quelques vérités autobiographiques ? Ne faut-il pas une certaine dose de folie pour mener sa fragile embarcation musicale sans dévier de son axe, de sa direction, comme le fait Patrick Forgas depuis tant d’années malgré les montagnes de difficultés et les périodes de découragement ?

Celui que l’on qualifie de réponse française à l’école de Canterbury, grand admirateur (pour ne pas dire adorateur) de Robert Wyatt, a connu bien des galères, qui l’ont même conduit à renoncer un temps à sa carrière. Mais il s’est toujours trouvé un événement ou une personne (comme Alain Juliac) pour ranimer la flamme et le remettre en selle.

Depuis deux albums, Soleil 12 et donc L’Axe du Fou, c’est chez Cuneiform qu’émarge le Forgas Band suite à une rencontre avec Steve Feigenbaum, le patron du label, lors d’un concert au Triton. N’allez pas croire pour autant que c’est désormais la Dolce Vita, les grands palaces, les limousines et les vastes salles de concert. C’est toujours la galère, les difficultés à maintenir un groupe stable, les bonnes volontés de musiciens quasi bénévoles ne pouvant pas toujours concilier les exigences d’assiduité d’une telle démarche artistique et certains impératifs économiques.

C’est ce qui explique qu’entre Soleil 12 et ce nouvel opus, hormis Patrick Forgas, le claviériste Igor Brover et le bassiste Kengo Mochizuki, les quatre autres musiciens de l’octuor sont de nouveaux venus. Cela ne change guère l’équilibre sonore du groupe, avec toujours les cuivres et le violon si caractéristiques du groupe même si, à l’évidence, chacun de ces musiciens apporte à l’édifice sa propre personnalité et son expérience musicale.

Cela dit, on serait bien en peine de déterminer si l’évolution musicale révélée sur ce nouvel opus tient au renouvellement de l’équipe ou à la volonté du compositeur. Un peu des deux sans doute. Autant la musique de Soleil 12 avait quelque chose de lumineux, avec des lignes mélodiques pures et toujours inspirées, (le sublime "Coup de Théâtre" et ses 34 minutes de ravissement constant), autant ce nouvel album contient quelque chose de parfois apparemment plus improvisé, des incises à l’esthétique free et des séquences discrètement plus tourmentées, comme le final de "La 13ème Lune" (après "Soleil 12", on appréciera).

La chose peut apparaître comme paradoxale puisque l’album précédent avait été enregistré en live, la scène étant théoriquement plus propice aux improvisations et qu’on observe des semblants d’improvisation sur cet album studio.

Quoi qu’il en soit, la vision musicale de Patrick Forgas trouve ici à s’incarner de belle manière une nouvelle fois. Respect, Monsieur Forgas".

Philippe Gnana


"Le célèbre batteur Patrick Forgas restera toujours reconnu, tout comme son confrère Christian Vander, pour avoir proposé très tôt, il y plus de trente ans, une musique nouvelle et inclassable, aux carrefours du rock progressif le plus débridé (Caravan, Soft Machine et autres National Health) et du jazz rock exigeant. D’ailleurs, le meneur en chef du Forgas Band Phenomena a passablement travaillé avec les membres de Magma ou Zao. Ainsi, la filiation est assez claire.

Depuis l'aventure de son célèbre album Cocktail à la fin des années soixante-dix, il a formé un nouveau septette en 1993 dont L’Axe du Fou est déjà le quatrième album même s’il n’a jamais cessé de publier sous son patronyme seul d’intéressants albums en solo (L’œil et Art d’Echo parus tous deux chez Muséa, respectivement en 1990 et 1993).

Très inspiré par l’école dite de Canterbury, cet excellent album puise également largement ses influences du côté de musiciens marquants comme ceux cités en amont, ou bien encore Jean-Luc Ponty ou l’inégalable Frank Zappa. Certes, le fruit est mûr à point, mais pourra sembler amer aux palais habitués aux douceurs néo-progressives ou aux rafraîchissantes mélodies d'électro-jazz qui se laissent écouter dans la plupart des cafés branchés des capitales du monde entier. Ici, il s’agit de musique sérieuse et complexe !

Les quatre longs morceaux qui composent cet Axe du Fou sont clairement structurés, parfaitement exécutés et jamais dénués de mélodie. La guitare électrique et le violon se taillent la part du lion à armes égales avec le formidable jeu de batterie du Forgas en chef. Rien de véritablement nouveau dans tout cela même si cette quatrième production constitue un produit de manufacture de haute horlogerie musicale à ne pas laisser passer pour tout amateur de 'belles mécaniques' instrumentales. Bref, un plat de gourmet !".

Christophe Gigon


"Credo fermamente che l'universo sonoro che ha sempre ruotato attorno alla celebrata "Canterbury Scene," da Caravan, Soft Machine e National Health in qua, sia - da quando ho l'età della ragione - una delle manifestazioni sonore più belle ed intriganti dell'intera storia della musica. Chi, alla fine dei Sessanta/inizi Settanta, ne è stato stregato, non è più riuscito a liberarsene restandone invischiato come mosca nel miele.

Folgorato sulla via di Damasco dal secondo lavoro discografico dei Soft Machine, l'oggi quasi sessantenne Patrick Forgas, drummer dal bel passato in terra di Francia, testimonia con sorprendente regolarità l'amore di oltre trent'anni verso i territori sonori di quell'incredibile stagione che coniugò alla perfezione dizionari di pop-rock e jazz in un melange mai più ripetuto agli stessi livelli.

L'Axe du Fou è il quarto lavoro di Forgas a capo di un settetto ormai stabile che - anche per un indubbia capacità tecnica instrisceca (è quasi un must per poter suonare le incredibili metriche del classico sound canterburyano) - ha preso il nome di "Phenomena". Oltre al metronomico leader, ci spiccano ai fiati Sébastien Trognon e Dimitri Alexaline, il chitarrista Benjamin Violet, il tastierista Igor Brover, il bassista Kengo Mochizuki e la sorprendente violinista polacca Karolina Miodecka. Provate a ripercorre nomi e cognomi appena segnati: pare un'internazionale. Ed è fondamentalmente ciò che troviamo alle basi delle nuove rivisitazioni canterburyane con cloni di Gilgamesh, Turning Point, Egg o Gong addirittura in terre giapponesi. Un secondo importante fattore per far comprendere quanto i grandi nomi del Canterbury Sound siano diventati veri fari di riferimento e, allo stesso tempo, di quanto radicato sia il verbo di questo particolarissimo universo sonoro, sicuramente brillante di luce propria.

Non è il caso, anche perché una presentazione discografica come questa, deve innanzitutto valere per coloro ai quali nomi come quelli di Mike Ratledge, Robert Wyatt, Pip Pyle, Dave Stewart, Barbara Gaskin, Phil Miller, Fred Frith oppure Hatfield and the North e Matching Mole non dicono più di tanto. L'opera di Forgas è ineccepibilmente un'altra goccia che non sposta un oceano sacro che non andrebbe mai dimenticato.

Chi etichetterebbe questo lavoro come jazz-rock o con altri "bollini" simili, commetterebbe un errore piuttosto grossolano. Gil Evans, Frank Zappa o Carla Bley lo confermerebbero immediatamente. Dunque, a parte i ricordi e le reminiscenze ovviamente rintracciabili, ci si diverta invece a comprendere lo straordinario universo sonoro e le arzigogolate architetture costituenti di un mondo davvero unico nel panorama musicale dell'ultimo mezzo secolo. Credetelo, c'è da restare stupiti ed incuriositi abbastanza per indagare ancora.

Da ultimo, una nota di merito alla Cuneiform, come sempre assolutamente attenta a tutto ciò che è innanzitutto e davvero musica".

Vittorio Albani


La magia e le coincidenze fortunate del momento a volte sono i complici giusti per realizzare opere che racchiudono dentro di sé un fascino tutto particolare e molto spesso certe circostanze sono irripetibili. Forse per questo Forgas ha deciso di realizzare questo album in studio, misurando bene i propri passi, invece di gettarsi sul palco e cogliere quello che al momento poteva scaturire dalla sua foga artistica, come era accaduto con lo splendido Soleil 12. Forgas ha fatto bene i propri calcoli e se proprio non ci ha regalato un album magico, come il precedente, per lo meno ha composto ottimi pezzi di jazz rock di stampo Canterburyano, alla sua maniera, con la sua classe, e non è assolutamente poco! A differenza di quanto avvenuto con Soleil 12, i cui pezzi derivavano da rielaborazioni di materiale composto negli anni Settanta, il nuovo album contiene canzoni scritte negli ultimi tre anni, con l'eccezione del pezzo di apertura, "La Clef", che risale al periodo di Roue Libre (1997). Anche la line-up, composta da 6 giovani musicisti, più ovviamente il veterano Patrick Forgas alle pelli, appare in parte rinnovata. Di questi solo il tastierista Igor Brover ed il bassista Kengo Mochizuki avevano suonato in Soleil 12, mentre la violinista Karolina Mlodecka, il chitarrista Benjamin Violet, il sassofonista Sébastien Trognon ed il trombettista Dimitri Alexaline, sono delle new entry. L'insieme dei musicisti, che in pratica non sono né più né meno che degli interpreti, ha avuto occasione di interagire e socializzare per 18 mesi prima di arrivare alla realizzazione dell'album che è interamente composto ed arrangiato da Forgas. Forgas ha misurato sapori, colori ed emozioni in un insieme sonoro equilibrato, non troppo dinamico e non troppo statico, mantenendo una qualità costante per tutta la durata dell'album. E' una musica questa che scorre fluida su tappeti ritmici piuttosto regolari e che si basa su melodie morbide e suadenti, intrecciate da violino e sax, i due strumenti solistici di rilievo in questo album. L'impalcatura melodica dei pezzi è sempre bene in evidenza e mai viene turbata da passaggi troppo complessi, da velleità solistiche o da inutili virtuosismi e la musica scivola via sul binario di una sezione ritmica estremamente regolare, come una sorta di jazz orchestrale che ha l'aria di una bella colonna sonora a tinte sinfoniche. Il pannello sonoro è intrigante, con un ruolo d'onore interpretato dal violino, che produce una gamma di melodie che tendono appena il filo della tensione emotiva, senza mai sollecitarlo troppo verso il punto di rottura. L'album è composto da quattro grossi affreschi sonori che variano da un massimo di 16 minuti ad un minimo di 8. L'ampiezza delle composizioni, le oscillazioni garbate dei ritmi e dei suoni, fanno somigliare questo disco all'oceano calmo e profondo, in cui si ha la vaga sensazione che un'onda possa alzarsi all'improvviso ad inghiottirti ma in cui regna in definitiva la bonaccia. La traccia più interessante è a mio giudizio la prima, "La Clef", proprio perché si presenta come la più varia e dinamica, con bei contrasti fra la tromba ed il violino instancabile e bei riferimenti agli Hatfield And The North. Si tratta di un album molto bello, sempre molto contenuto nelle emozioni che riesce a suscitare ma in cui forse un'enfasi maggiore avrebbe donato più luce alle pur ottime composizioni qui contenute".

Jessica Attene


"Patrick Forgas, compositore-batterista, è un piccolo genio. Il suo jazz rock orchestrale, dalle belle linee melodiche e quasi cantabili, funziona alla grande. Per questa prova ha riunito intorno a sé sette musicisti, tutti più o meno sconosciuti ma con una solida tecnica e preparazione musicale, che come l’oliato meccanismo di un orologio svizzero riescono a tradurre e interpretare alla perfezione, senza sbavature, il materiale scritto da Forgas. Un materiale che per ispirazione spazia da Frank Zappa a Jean Luc Ponty, dalla Clearlight Symphony al Mike Oldfield prima maniera, dalla Penguin Cafè Orchestra a certe atmosfere di gruppi progressive britannici come Stackridge o Camel. Anche se, a dirla tutta, le analogie più marcate sono con le suite “orchestrali” dei Caravan: in particolare quelli del periodo con Geoffrey Richardson alla viola e degli album For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night e Caravan and New Symphonia. Già il compositore aveva ben impressionato con Soleil 12, quarto disco dell’ensemble e il primo ad essere pubblicato dalla label americana Cuneiform, dove venivano ripresi e riarriangiati materiali scritti negli anni Settanta. L’album, uscito nel 2005, ottenne un discreto successo di critica e accelerò da parte di Forgas la messa a punto di nuove composizioni. Quattro le tracce contenute in L’Axe du Fou che confermano la vitalità di un ensemble che gioca molto sui cambi di ritmo e su una ricca tavolozza timbrica con fiati, violino, tastiere, chitarra elettrica che si alternano nelle parti soliste. Il brano più convincente? "La 13ème Lune", un saggio dell’abilità di Forgas nell’imbastire una tela multicolore di generi a cavallo fra rock, jazz e musica d’intrattenimento che non può non lasciare indifferenti, e l’iniziale "La Clef", forse il pezzo più “sperimentale” della raccolta. Certo è che per il prossimo album Forgas dovrà inventarsi qualcosa di nuovo a livello di direzione musicale. Altrimenti, la possibilità di ripetersi rischia di diventare davvero alta.

Claudio Bonomi


"La band del batterista e compositore Patrick Forgas è fatta di giovani messi insieme per cercare un modo di fare musica che suonasse attuale ed allo stesso tempo radicato in certo genere di marca inglese come quello dei Soft Machine.

Lo stesso Forgas ha vissuto quel periodo in prima persona, con una sua incisione di debutto che risale al 1977 e che trovò il consenso della critica francese. Poi sono seguiti alti e bassi, la scomparsa dalla scena durante gli anni `80, l´incontro con il sassofonista Didier Malherbe (chi lo ricorda ancora con i Gong?) e nel 2005 la collaborazione con la Cuneiform Records, che ha praticamento dato una forma precisa alle sue idee e permesso di realizzare un genere ormai dimenticato dalle case discografiche più importanti, che almeno di tanto in tanto ristampano vecchi capolavori su CD.

Adesso ci sono nella sua band musicisti giovani e preparati e la loro musica suona, anche in confronto ai modelli di alcuni decenni fa, matura e ben organizzata, eseguita con perfezione matematica e passione manifestata negli assoli travolgenti.

Tutto quello che è stato scritto di positivo su Soleil 12, il disco precedente, viene confermato alla grande. La fusione di jazz rock e progressive funziona bene. Melodie che attirano subito l´attenzione e ritmi incalzanti fanno sì che sia difficile separarsi dal questa notevole incisione. Ma non ci si aspetti un´opera dal sapore "revival": i giovani sidemen conoscono l´attualità cosí che il sassofonista tenore e soprano Sébastien Trognon tira fuori dal cilindro un sorprendente assolo nello stile di un Jan Garbarek.

Il resto della band è costituito da musicisti di valore, fra cui la violinista polacca Karolina Mlodeka, cui viene dato notevole spazio dagli arrangiamenti. È un gruppo multinazionale: la completano il bassista giapponese Kengo Mochizuki, il tastierista Igor Brover, Dimitri Alexaline alla tromba, il chitarista Benjamin Violet.

La musica di Patrick Forgas ha un notevole respiro che si dipana in brani lunghi fra i dieci ed i quindici minuti. Riprende il messaggio della migliore fusion europea degli anni `70 trasportandolo nella modernità globalizzata".

Vittorio LoConte


"Contrariamente a quanto si pensi, trascorsi oramai più di quarant'anni da quella gloriosa epopea, l'affascinante scena di Canterbury continua a vivere una stagione di felice produttività. In Francia - considerata da sempre la terra adottiva di quel genere - opera sin dalla fine degli anni Settanta un manipolo di musicisti tra i quali spicca il granitico batterista Patrick Forgas.

Il cinquantottenne drummer parigino, che ha militato in gruppi storici del progressive transalpino come Magma e Zao, giunge ora al suo quarto progetto discografico col nome della band Forgas Band Phenomena (secondo cd per la gloriosa Cuneiform dopo il precedente Soleil 12).

Ritmi serrati, temi fiabeschi, pirotecnici incantamenti contenuti in questo Axis Of Madness rimandano alla memoria – ovviamente con i dovuti distinguo - quelle antiche sortite che furono di gruppi storici come Soft Machine, Hatfield & The North e National Health. Ma non è tutto qui.

Il materiale contenuto in questo lavoro, quasi tutte composte nell'ultimo triennio, vengono qui rimodulate ed espresse con un linguaggio moderno e organico, offrendo una nuova chiave di lettura alla particolare filosofia canterburiana.

Elemento importante della band è la violinista polacca Karolina Mlodecka alla quale spesso è affidato "il canto delle melodie", tutte composte dalla fantasiosa penna di Forgas.

"Double-Sens" è ad esempio un poliedrico contenitore di quell'inventiva che si riconnette con certe atmosfere inizialmente docili ma che man mano si trasformano nella giostra di tempi scomposti, in brevi frammenti softmachiniani (proprio a metà della composizione) nonchè negli interscambi strumentali inscenati dal sax "agile" di Sébastien Trognon, nei call & response di Igor Brover al piano elettrico e nei ricami chitarristici di Benjamin Violet.

Richiami ad un certo art rock statunitense (tipo Kansas) si ritrovano invece nei lunghi sedici minuti di "L'Axe Du Fou", brano in continuo movimento tra lunghi tappeti modali e cantabili scritture mai appesantite da barocchi arrangiamenti.

Suona invece di antico l'intro di "La Clef" (a quanto pare risalente una composizione di Forgas risalente al 1997 rimasta fuori dalle session del CD Roue Libre), mentre la conclusiva "La 13éme Lune" dal gradevole andamento medium, trova fertile terreno nel piglio jazzistico del giovane ventiseienne trombettista Dimitri Alexaline.

Riduttivo ci sembra proseguire nella descrizione dettagliata dei quattro episodi che compongono questo L'Axe Du Fou / Axis Of Madness. Un prezioso disco destinato non solo ai nostalgici canterburiani della prima ora ma anche a chi di quella scena non ha mai avuto occasione di poterne apprezzare le nobili discendenze derivanti dal grande solco che fu il jazz elettrico di quello storico periodo".

Gianmichele Taormina


"Here comes the French answer to the Canterbury sound !

Fin dalla fine degli anni Novanta il batterista e compositore Patrick Forgas porta avanti il progetto Forgas Band Phenomena, ensemble strumentale attualmente composto da sette elementi che offre un'originale risposta made in France alle grandi scuole del jazz rock e del Canterbury sound. Axis of Madness è il quarto lavoro della band, che si muove in un territorio sospeso tra Zappa e Jean Luc-Ponty, Soft Machine e Mahavishnu Orchestra.

Sezione ritmica, chitarra, tastiere, sassofono/flauto, tromba e violino costituiscono la vasta gamma di strumenti a cui Forgas Band Phenomena può attingere per costruire la propria sonorità. A dominare è senza dubbio il violino di Karolina Mlodecka, che tra Grappelli, Ponty e Goodman esegue con superbe capacità tecniche linee melodiche ambiziose, capaci comunque di abbandonare qua e là le complesse partiture scritte a favore di improvvisazioni intense e mai sguaiate. L'importanza del violino nel sound di questa band si definisce non solo in base alla sua attitudine da protagonista, ma anche in base alla sua capacità di costruire densi dialoghi con gli strumenti a fiato.

Come su molti degli album di casa Cuneiform, l'abilità tecnica dei musicisti, tutti valenti esecutori, è un aspetto fondamentale. A ciò si unisce la capacità di Forgas, autore di tutte le composizioni, di creare vere e proprie partiture e arrangiamenti sinfonici per i suoi compagni di band. Il progetto ambizioso non impedisce comunque che le composizioni scorrano con facilità, godibili e solari. Musicalmente ricco di contenuti, l'album ha il pregio di offrire, attraverso un uso intelligente degli strumenti a disposizione, una declinazione piuttosto originale del genere, portando, anche all'interno della discografia Cuneiform, una ventata di riconoscibile freschezza".

Giulia Nuti

DISCO-SPAT (mail-order) (link)

"El gran baterista Patrick Forgas vuelve a la carga con un nuevo disco de Forgas Band Phenomena, titulado L’Axe Du Fou. Para mí, su anterior trabajo, el directo Soleil 12 (2005) es uno de los mejores discos de la década, razón por la que ha sido todo un placer escuchar su nuevo álbum. Al lee la formación, reconocemos nombres como el de el teclista Igor Brover y el bajista Kengo Mochizuki, pero el resto de músicos son diferentes con respecto a Soleil 12. Ahora Sébastien Trognon se encarga de los saxos y la flauta, Dimitri Alexaline de la trompeta y el fliscornio, Benjamin Violet de la guitarra y Karolina Mlodecka del violín. Con esta instrumentación es difícil hacer música que no sea excelente.

Mientras Soleil 12 tenía algunos temas compuestos en los ’70, L’Axe Du Fou se compone casi exclusivamente de composiciones hechas entre 2006 y 2008. Aunque estaba previsto que fuera grabado en 2006, problemas personales hicieron que no se registrara hasta julio de 2008, en unas sesiones que tan sólo duraron tres dias, ya que la intención de la banda era reflejar como sonaban en directo (la gran ventaja de hacer esto en estudio es que pueden tocar todos los instrumentos juntos, como si de un concierto se tratara, pero con la opción de repetir las tomas si es necesario).

Nada más escuchar el primer tema, “Le Clef” (10’50) intuimos lo que se nos viene encima. La potente introducción pertenece a “Urgence”, un tema grabado para el álbum Roue Libre (1997), pero que al final no fue incluido en el mismo. Sobre la sólida base rítmica se van sucediendo varios solos de violín, saxo soprano, fliscornio, saxo tenor…Los ritmos cambian constantemente, las melodias son fantásticas, y el alternar muchos solos cortos de distintos instrumentos le da mucho dinamismo y color a la composición. Le sigue “L’Axe Du Fou” (16’32), el último tema que Forgas compuso para el disco, en 2008. El bajo y la batería se ven arropados durante toda la pieza por una buena base de piano, construyendo unos pilares sobre los que se alzan algunas de las melodias más bonitas del disco. Como siempre, el violín destaca sobre el resto de los instrumentos solistas, y es todavia más efectivo al combinarlo con la guitarra o los saxos. Todo esto junto con los cambios de ritmo y los solos de poco más de 30 segundos de flauta, saxo soprano (de una gran sensibilidad), de piano o de trompeta hacen de “L’Axe Du Fou” el plato fuerte del disco.

Una bella melodia de piano eléctrico, violín y trompeta nos adentran en “Double Sens”(13’50). Originalmente, esta pieza duraba 35 minutos, pero a Forgas no le parecía que las distintas partes estuvieran bien conjuntadas, así que para esta nueva versión de 13 minutos, aprovechó los primeros minutos de la original, y compuso de nuevo lo demás. Curiosamente, lo mejor del tema comienza en el minuto 6’30, donde el violín interpreta una preciosa melodia que después se repite sobre distintos y con diferente instrumentación. ¡Genial!.

Para terminar, “La 13ème Lune”, una bonita pieza para violín cuyos solos van alternándose con otros de flauta, trompeta, guitarra o saxo tenor, sobre una sección rítmica fantástica, con el piano eléctrico y la guitarra apoyando al bajo y la batería.

Así termina uno de los que serán mis discos favoritos del año. Todavia estamos en enero, pero no me cabe la menor duda. Ningún amante de la buena música debería perderse este disco, pero sobretodo los amantes del jazz rock, de el jazz británico y el sonido canterbury, estilos que convergen en locales como Le Triton en París, lo que hace músicos de distintas nacionalidades, de diversas bandas y de épocas diferentes colaboren entre sí, siendo difundidos por gente como Aymeric Leroy o Leonardo Pavkovic, y sellos como Cuneiform o MoonJune. Toda esta escena lleva mucho tiempo dando grandes trábajos, y hay que seguirle la pista".


"Campeão. O mais novo CD da Forgas Band Phenomena é campeão. Patrick Forgas depois de ter desaparecido por um tempo de cenário do progressivo está super atuante com sua banda e esse é o quarto CD, agora com septeto. Além de Patrick, só dois membros da última formação estão presentes, Igor Brover (teclados) e Kengo Mochizuki (baixo), sendo os membros novos da banda: Sébastien Trognon (saxfones e flauta), Dimitri Alexaline (trompete e flugelhorn), Benjamin Violet (guitarra), e Karolina Mlodecka (violino). O jazz rock de Forgas é francês e tem charme todo especial, mas a influência Canterbury é forte e na mesma proporção que o jazz e jazz-rock francês de bandas como Zao, Boomerang, Abus Dangereux, bem como Carpe Diem. São quatro faixas, "La Clef" é de marcação forte e arrasadora, enquanto os ataques de sax-trompete com motivos latinos são alternados com solos de violino e guitarra. "L'Axe Du Fou" é a faixa título é belo jazz-rock progressivo que me lembra as melhores composições do Carpe Diem, com leveza e graça nos solos de flauta e violino, que são contrapostos aos mais pesados e com distorção da guitarra, mas as nas frases de interação entre violino e guitarra a harmonia é fantástica. "Double-Sens" é uma bela balada em que o violino é aproveitado ao máximo, as frases com violino e sax soprano dobrados são muito bonitas, e o solo de guitarra no final sobre o pizzicato de violino é incrível. "La 13ème Lune" fecha o CD com grande estilo. Outro jazz-rock, mas com domínio da guitarra sobre o violino. Há muito tempo não ouço um jazz-rock francês tão bom".

Renato Moraes