LINER NOTES FOR 2008 REISSUE (English translation)

"I'd just turned 20 when, in early 1972, I decided to write and perform my own music. I'd just spent a year playing Saturday night dances with a pop cover group, Music System. I'd earned enough doing that to afford better equipment, but I wanted to form a group that would play original material. So I assembled Créer (the name was inspired by that of my first girlfriend, a German girl named Kräehe), in a hard-rock vein, with a guitarist in the pure Led Zeppelin style. I had a Ludwig kit, perfect for this kind of music, and I sang a little, in fake English! Later we found a "real" singer, an American guy who was almost 7 feet tall! I wrote all the music, and he improvised lyrics onstage. I don't remember much about this repertoire: it wasn't very original, or even interesting. It was good for improving my drumming skills, but it felt like we weren't different from what everybody else was doing. The group split after a single performance, at a youth club in Parly 2. At the time, I was earning a living working as accountant on the boulevard Exelmans, and subsequently at Bordas publishing. By then I'd left my bedsit in the rue Michel-Ange to live with Réjane, my girlfriend at the time, near the Javel metro station.

In 1973, I quit my job and we found a two-room flat on the Sentier de Montézy in Issy-les-Moulineaux, in a house with a garden. I had put enough money aside to afford a little equipment - a guitar and a 4-track tape recorder - and since I was unemployed, I could dedicate myself to music full-time. I began by recording solo demos, overdubbing myself by reversing the tape to record another instrument; the process resulted in added hiss, so you had to clean the heads with alcohol all the time... I was hoping I might eventually find musicians who would play with me; sadly, that proved very difficult.

One day, on the Place d'Alésia, I met some musicians who lived in a community. By an incredible coincidence it turned out they too lived in Issy-les-Moulineaux, a couple of hundred yards from my house! I soon became their drummer of choice - I played in three or four different groups... But what was most interesting for me was that they had quite a lot of equipment, which I could use - amps, a mixing desk, an ARP synth, as well as my drum kit: I was able to record my own music, which is how I was able to make my first demos.

Musicians from Pigalle would often turn up to jam with us. One of them was Dominique Godin, who went on to become my first pianist. I saw right away there was some common ground between us. He had an organ and a Hohner electric piano with a wah-wah pedal, and I really liked the way he soloed. He was a self-taught musician, interested in unconventional music, and also played a bit of sax...

Once I'd assembled enough demos, I began shopping them to various labels. I was particularly keen on Barclay as, somewhat naively, reading their name on old Soft Machine albums, I had assumed they were its producers, when in fact their were only its distributors. The A&R man, Jean Fernandez, told me I should speak to Fabrice Cuitade, who was in charge of their foreign catalogue, which was closer in style to my own music, notably the German groups like Tangerine Dream. He quite liked my demos, and we kept in touch, but after a while, nothing seemed to be happening, so I wrote him a rather virulent letter, saying I was fed up of going nowhere and it was time somebody gave me a chance. And it worked! He called me to say he had booked us a day at their studio in the avenue Hoche.

In the meantime, I'd met Didier Thibault, who had previously been the bass player in Moving Gelatine Plates. In those days I was a frequent visitor to the Gibus Club, one of whose owners, Francis Clarel, was the father of their drummer, Alain. That's how I got his contact. I explained to him what I wanted to do, he found it interesting, and we began rehearsing as a trio with Dominique. I had a first sketch of what would become "My Trip". From the start, I had this idea of writing a long piece. It took me a long time to finish it, because I worked alone, without all the tools that exist today, such as sequencers...

It was my first time recording in a proper studio, and I had no idea how it would turn out. In the event, reactions were very positive. I didn't really entertain much hope of being signed to Barclay, since I knew that, in this musical sphere, French groups were not really popular. But Fabrice played the tape to various people, and it caught the attention of Jean-Marc Bailleux, a journalist at Rock & Folk, who was about to form the Gratte-Ciel label in partnership with José Ferré, a publisher at RCA in avenue Matignon. One day, I got a call from José, and he told me he and his partners - José Alvarado and Jean-Marc Patra - had found my demo very interesting and had agreed to produce an album.

Problem was, in the meantime I'd lost my group. Didier had decided to reform his own group (Moving), and persuaded Dominique to join him. This meant I had to find new musicians. I put an ad in a music store near the Luxembourg, and one fine day Jean-Pierre Fouquey turned up at my door. In the ad, I had mentioned Soft Machine and that had caught his attention. When I saw him on my doorstep, I knew right away that it was the chance of a lifetime : destiny had made me cross paths with one of the best French pianists of his generation. He was a true alien, a kind of French Jan Hammer, everybody wondered where he'd come from! Over the course of a year, we spent virtually all our time together : he left his Rhodes piano at our flat, went back to his place in the evening and returned the following morning... We both knew our musical partnership could be mutually beneficial : he had more potential as an instrumentalist than I did, but he also knew my music had an originality he probably wouldn't find elsewhere.

By then I'd made significant progress in composing "My Trip" and we finished it together. I played him the chords and he wrote everything down. At the same time, I met other musicians - Patrick Lemercier, Patrick Tilleman, Laurent Roubach - but in the studio, we began by recording a basic track with just piano and drums, and the others then overdubbed their parts on top of it. The whole process was somewhat disorderly, although it's hard to tell when you hear the results. We worked with Philippe Beaucamp, who had built a 16-track studio in Roissy-en-Brie, where Zao had already recorded a few months earlier. The place had no particular charm, so during the week we spent there, the atmosphere was rather industrious. Philippe was a very gifted engineer, and together, we succeeded in creating a unique sound world.

For the sax solo at the end of "My Trip", I was avised to use Bruce Grant, an American saxophonist who, rumour had it, had played with Santana ! We were all very impressed to have a black American jazz musician on our record - I know this will sound like a cliché, but at the same time I had different references, I didn't see what I did as having anything to do with American music !

The end section, with the musical box, I recorded it all by myself. There's guitar, bass, and a children's toy which was in fact a little mill. The difficult part was to turn the wheel regularly so that it synchronised with the guitar arpeggios. It was deliberately naïve and happy-go-lucky music. And as I saw it, exactly what was needed after a very intense twenty-minute piece, with the musicians delivering a no-holds-barred performance - a bit like the world of the children countering that of the adults.

The first side was recorded later, in a different studio, in the Yvelines I think. The approach was deliberately different. I wanted the album to be a reflection of who I was, that is to say, a lot of different things. Thus the idea of making a long suite on one side, which was fashionable at the time, and on the other, a series of shorter pieces that showed other facets of my music, with different types of musicians. I think that this was a deciding factor in Gratte-Ciel's decision to sign me, that there would be a side with pieces that could possibly be played on the radio, although when you listen to them, it is obvious they were not meant to be commercial. What's sure, though, is that they were less complicated to record that "My Trip" ! Besides, I played many things myself, overdubbing, à la Mike Oldfield. Partly because the other musicians were not always available, but also because it was sometimes simpler to play certain parts myself, than to try to explain to somebody else what I wanted. I was proud enough when Laurent Roubach said to me that some of the things I had played on the guitar, he wouldn't have been able to play them as well. It was a different conception of the guitar to his, which he found interesting and had nothing to do with virtuosity. I wasn't trying to impress anyone.

At the time, I was keen on trying to include vocals in my music. I remember that Tim Blake came to visit me with Christian Boulé; they wanted to form a group, Nova Vano, and had thought of me as a potential drummer - their bass player, Géraldine, thought I looked the part ! I played them some of my demos, and Tim said my voice sounded like Robert Wyatt's! Coming from an ex-member of Gong, I found this rather encouraging ! So I kept trying, but it was difficult. I tended to write lyrics that were difficult to sing on this kind of music, but I only realised that when the time came to record them... I was also well aware that I didn't have the special talent required to write "real" songs. Instead I wrote lyrics that played with phonetics, because in music, the sound of the voice is often more important than the meaning of the words, and the same word said by two different persons can mean totally different things, depending on the tone, the articulation, etc. When we began playing concerts after the release of Cocktail, I tried to sing while drumming, but it didn't work. People advised me to stop, telling me I didn't sing in tune, so I gave up. But then suddenly, some people began complaining that I sang on the record but not in concert. I remember, at the end of our last concert, at the Carquefou festival, some guys in the audience shouted "Forgas, sing!".

I formed the Forgas Band in September 1977. In the meantime, I'd decided to stop working with Jean-Pierre Fouquey. He'd begun playing with Magma, but more than that, I felt we were no longer on the same wavelength. I was lucky to another keyboard player very quickly, Eric Bono (aka 'Paco'), and a bass player, Philippe Talet. Laurent Roubach stayed on, and Patrick Tilleman too, initially. He left after the first few gigs, and we carried on as a quartet (Jorge Pinchevsky, the ex-Gong violinist, reinforced us for one concert) for a while, then we were joined by Jean-Pierre Thirault, whom I'd met two years earlier, as he was the saxophonist in Nova Vano, Tim Blake and Christian Boulé's group. He had since been in another group signed to Gratte-Ciel, Mahjun.

For the concerts, I had decided that we would play three long pieces - "My Trip", and two new ones ("Zë" and "Palpelabio") which I intended for the second album. I thought that after all, having had the chance to record one, maybe I would be allowed to make another one! At the time, there was still hope of a positive evolution for this style of music, but in fact the whole thing collapsed very quickly...

Following intensive rehearsals at Joinville-le-Pont (Pierre Moerlen's Gong-Expresso, with Mireille Bauer, rehearsed next door), we did play a few gigs - one supporting Didier Malherbe's Bloom at a high school near the Anvers metro station, another at the Gymnase in Saint-Cloud, a festival in the Cultural Centre in Marly-le-Roi... But we didn't gig enough to make a living out of it. In addition, the agent who worked with Gratte-Ciel didn't like me. He treated me like a hippie and made no particular efforts to get us gigs... A provincial tour had been discussed, but it never took place. Thanks to José Alvarado, the third partner in the label, we did appear on Paul Alessandrini's radio show on France-Culture. I even did a short interview with him, but I was so intimidated, I couldn't even hear his questions!

Unfortunately, almost simultaneously, Gratte-Ciel went bankrupt. The problem, in my view, and this was true of many small independent labels at the time, was that they thought too big, and signed too many people, and didn't try to establish a coherent image. For instance, they had signed a singer, Einaudi, who had nothing to do musically with the rest of their catalogue. He sold quite a lot of singles after he'd appeared on a TV show, but that blurred their image a bit. At the same time, I tell myself that it is perhaps thanks to such things that I was able to make my album: maybe I was part of the "surplus"!

In any case, this proved the killing blow for the group. Apart from the purely financial aspects, I felt that our goals were no longer the same. In addition, this had negative effects on my personal life, and I split with the girl I'd been living with for five years. At this point, in October 1978, I preferred to end the group, hoping to re-start it again later in another form...

When I listen back to Cocktail today, I'm still proud of it. Of course, I am not objective, but I find that it sounds as good as it did thirty years ago. Not every record from this era has aged as well! It's a music that has its own identity, you can hear the musicians can play, and even though certain details aren't perfect, I think we all did a pretty good job. Some musicians are ashamed when they listen to what they did when they were twenty or twenty-five years old, but I'm not".

Patrick Forgas (February 2007)

ROCK & FOLK (Janvier 1978)

"Forgas est de ces gens qui peuvent sortir un son de n'importe quel objet. A des fins musicales, en général. La preuve en est, ce disque où il apparaît tour à tour à la basse, à la guitare et à la batterie... Cette dernière reste cependant son instrument de prédilection, et chacune des deux faces donne un aperçu différent de ses talents. Celle qui fut composée la première, "My Trip", et qui date de quelques années déjà, est un hommage de chaque instant à Robert Wyatt, la preuve aussi que des disques comme les premiers Soft Machine ou End Of An Ear ont été disséqués et que Patrick Forgas, comme beaucoup d'autres en ces temps, s'est complu dans ce climat éthéré fait de grâce et de ruptures, où les paroles sont plus prétexte à mélodie qu'à message. Il chante en français et, c'était là une manière inattendue d'escamoter le problème, on n'y voit pas la différence : ses mots sont comme autant de bulles émergeant d'une brume, empreints de poésie brute, pensée enchevêtrées, informelles, en fuite dans l'espace ou surprises au détour d'un écho, à peine dégagées des limbes qu'elles s'évanouissent. Le tout premier pas de la création. La batterie joue à la recherche de ces petites finesses qui font plaisir, et la basse de Gérard Prévost n'en rate pas une.

Pour la seconde face, on a changé de studio d'enregistrement, et par là même de son. L'ombre de Wyatt s'est effacée. L'orientation musicale des compositions est délibérément "moderne". Presque dansante. Chacune d'entre elles pourrait faire un passage radio, et c'est tant mieux. "Automne 69", "Monks" ou "Cocktail" évoquent le punk, voire le disco. Ce serait là le second pas de la création. Celui d'un certain ordre, d'une organisation étroite, rigoureuse, mais qui reste cependant disponible aux divagations du soul ou des instruments solistes. Le jeu de batterie est alors plus enclin à la précision et à l'efficacité qu'au lyrisme. C'est encore un cheminement qui nous est proposé, celui d'une caravane à travers un désert peuplé d'illusions, un balancement répétitif sur lequel un état d'esprit et une sonorité jazzy (grâce au très beau violon de Patrick Tillemann et aux saxophones de François Debricon) viennent s'installer.

Voilà un album particulièrement représentatif de ce que la musique d'ici peut faire pour sortir de sa misère : reprendre les choses à leur plus simple niveau et reconstruire un univers mélodique et rythmique qui soit confortable et où différentes personnalités puissent donner leur pleine valeur. C'est ce qui s'est passé avec Cocktail. Rien d'étonnant à cela lorsqu'on sait, depuis Scott Fitzgerald, que la France est le pays des princes du shaker.

Patrick Coutin

BEST (Décembre 1977)

"Si, depuis le silence forcé de Robert Wyatt, il vous semblait qu'il manquait quelque-chose dans le panorama de la musique actuelle, qu'une voie intéressante avait été trop tôt abandonnée, sachez que la lacune est maintenant comblée avec ce magnifique premier album de Patrick Forgas, un disque qui est l'une des plus brillantes réussites réalisées ces temps-ci en France.

Forgas est un batteur-chanteur-compositeur, multi-instrumentiste à ses heures. La comparaison avec Wyatt s'impose donc tout de suite, et une fois entendu le disque, il devient évident que par sa façon de composer, de jouer et de chanteur, Forgas ne fait pas seulement du Wyatt, mais prend bel et bien la relève du grand Robert, reprend l'expérience là où elle s'était arrêtée pour la pousser plus loin.

Indéniablement, Forgas est en proie à un véritable bouillonnement créatif : sur son disque, les thèmes, à peine amorcés, à peine dégustés, s'esquivent pour laisser la place à d'autres, encore plus beaux ou plus percutants. Les vocaux, en français s'il vous plaît, sont superbes et se glissent toujours à propos dans cette chaîne ininterrompue de mélodies fugitives mais inoubliables.

Outre Forgas, l'on trouve sur ce disque la crème de l'amicale des grands musiciens méconnus, section française (hélas fournie), avec en tête un Gérard Prévost qui nous fait tout au long du disque un numéro de basse digne des plus grands. Les violons solos, les saxes, tout est ici extraordinairement au point, incisif, plein de verve et de mordant. De quelque côté qu'on aborde ce disque, on frise toujours l'exceptionnel. Pour vous en convaincre, écoutez donc ce fabuleux morceau qu'est "Monks" : une rythmique époustouflante, un souffle électrique qui semble venu tout droit du Yeti d'Amon Düül II, des solos de braise, et cette impression viscérale que le riff vous pénètre dans le corps pour vous hanter à jamais. Décidément, la musique française se découvre maintenant de nouvelles splendeurs tous les mois. Désormais, il faudra citer Forgas lorsque l'on vantera à un étranger les mérites de la musique made in France, car voici assurément quelqu'un qui a quelque-chose à dire au monde entier".

Hervé Picart

ROCK EN STOCK (Octobre 1977)

"Ce Cocktail de Forgas est un cocktail à vous enivrer. Gratte-Ciel semble se faire une spécialité de la découverte de petits génies méconnus. Après le très beau Treponem Pal sorti de l'inconnu, voici dans un tout autre genre, Forgas. En y regardant attentivement, on voit sur le verso de la pochette que ce grand escogriffe aux yeux exorbités, monté sur un petit cheval de bois de Don Quichotte sans Pança et qui ressemble à un hybride de Ted Nugent et de Ian Anderson, s'appelle bien Forgas, Patrick de son prénom. Ce n'est pas un groupe anglais qui se dénommerait "pour le gaz" (For Gas) et serait né aux environs de Canterbury, mais bel et bien un petit mec de Levallois-Perret qui a décidé de consacrer sa vie à exprimer ses émotions par la musique et que Gratte-Ciel a rencontré après qu'il ait été successivement comptable, marchand d'instruments, peintre en bâtiment, marchand d'objets divers à la sauvette et dans les comités d'entreprise... Une merveilleuse histoire d'amour dont, après le résumé du premier chapitre que je viens de donner, voici le second : un disque étonnant et fou, un peu de passé dans l'avenir, le retour du plaisir dans le rock "à la française".

Dans sa bio, Forgas déclare : "Je ne composerais jamais de musique si celle-ci ne transmettait pas d'émotions et de plaisir". Et nous voici, ainsi, au cœur du problème : certains "techniciens" qui ont vu ou entendu jouer Forgas ont pu dire qu'il ne savait pas "jouer". Ils se sont plantés, là n'est pas la question, ce qui est important, essentiel, c'est qu'il sait dire des choses par sa musique, sait qu'il sait nous faire participer à sa joie, au plaisir qu'il prend à composer et à jouer. Thelonious Monk, Eno, Peter Hammill, Robert Wyatt ne savent pas (classiquement parlant) jouer, pourtant ce sont des génies. Qui oserait le contester ? Avec Wyatt l'analogie va plus loin; comme lui Forgas est batteur, comme lui, il chante avec une voix dont on ne sait jamais trop bien où elle va craquer et dont comme lui, il se sert comme d'un instrument. Plus que lui, il est multi-instrumentiste (claviers, guitares, basse, harmonica...). Comme lui il est farouchement opposé à toute forme de convention, de redite, de procédés musicaux. Il va droit à l'objet qu'il triture (l'instrument), à l'émotion qu'il exprime. Comme Wyatt c'est un personnage complexe, et enfin comme lui un grand compositeur et un grand musicien.

Mais il faut s'arrêter là. Ne vous attendez pas à une copie conforme. Patrick Forgas a rencontré Robert Wyatt, ils se sont aimés. Point. Depuis, Robert Wyatt a décidé de ne plus travailler (c'est malheureusement de plus en plus confirmé), n'attendez pas Forgas pour le remplacer. Wyatt est irremplaçable et Forgas est unique. Mais peut-être ce plaisir distillé par Little Red Record ou Rock Bottom, Volume Two ou Third, comme moi le retrouverez-vous à l'écoute de l'étrange "cocktail" que Forgas nous a préparé.

"J'aime la soul music, le blues, le hard-rock, le jazz, les chants religieux et tout ce qui se rapporte à l'amour. Tout ceci n'a pas d'importance superficiellement, c'est au fond que tout se rejoint". C'est encore lui qui parle et on ne sait plus où donner de l'oreille. L'album est bizarrement construit, mais logiquement. La première face est un cocktail - à ce propos, jamais un album n'aura mieux porté son titre -, neuf morceaux d'inégales durées, de feelings opposés, de genres presque hétéroclites. Ce qui fait la réussite d'un cocktail, c'est l'art de mélanger des saveurs faussement contradictoires, des alcools qui ne se tuent qu'en apparence pour mieux vous surprendre et vous envoyer en l'air. Opération réussie !

Tous les morceaux sont enchaînés, ou presque, et se côtoient de petites étiquettes musicales dont on a l'impression qu'elles ne sont là que pour nous frustrer, pour nous laisser sur notre faim, tant on souhaiterait qu'elles durent et aussi pour servir de tremplin, de prétexte, de contrepoint au morceau qui suit ou qui précède. Ainsi, un "Automne 69" de cinquante secondes tout à fait dans l'esprit "Pataphysical Introduction" du Soft (le vrai) avec voix à la "Hope For Happiness", se carambole avec "Monks (La Danse Des Moines)", un instrumental super-funky construit autour d'un riff de guitare et prétexte aux emportements délirants de Patrick Tillemann au violon et François Debricon à la flûte; un des deux ou trois morceaux qui semblent parfaitement incongrus dans l'esthétique générale de l'album, et qui pourtant s'imposent par leur originalité et/ou leur efficacité.

Forgas semble avoir délibérément pris le parti de nous prendre à contrepied; il fait durer des morceaux à l'architecture très mince et auquel il insuffle la vie par la véritable magie de ses arrangements; et à l'inverse, il réduit à leur quintessence des thèmes harmoniquement et mélodiquement très riches et recherchés, qu'il pourrait développer à l'infini. Après les quatre minutes de cette "Danse Des Moines" (défroqués pou sûr), "Reflets d'Ail" est un peu une défense et illustration de la batterie spontanée, non technique, presque émue, la batterie de "Moon In June". "Cœur Violon" joue le même rôle pour le violon. L'ensemble n'a pas duré trois minutes et l'on débouche sur une petite perle où, à l'exception de la basse de Gérard Prévost, Forgas joue de tous les instruments : "Orgueil", le funk à l'état pur. Ce type a tout compris. Un titre qui tiendrait dix ans comme générique d'une bonne émission de rock à la radio ou à la TV. "Rituel" essaiera un peu plus loin de retrouver cette force vive des tripes mais avec moins de succès. "Vol d'Hirondelle" est à mon avis le morceau le plus wyattien du disque, et l'un des plus beaux : la voix s'accroche dans les nuées, le thème est magnifique et, après une deuxième écoute, inoubliable. "Cocktail" et "Rhume des Foins", qui termine la face, donnent deux nouveaux sujets d'étonnement : le premier, car jusqu'au chorus de sax on se demande si Forgas n'a pas composé ce titre comme pour nous dire, "vous voyez, je pense aussi faire des trucs plus propres, plus léchés, de beaux petits thèmes bien construits et faciles"; sax et flûte à l'unisson jouent une mélodie accrocheuse (on dirait commerciale) et crac ! un miaulement de flûte, un chorus de sax et de basse qui se déglingue et s'affole, et c'est Forgas. A propos de basse, elle est bel et bien affolante. Un festival de Gérard Prévost en passe de devenir le Pastorius français : un son chaud, une touche à la fois sensible et funky à souhait, l'émotion alliée à l'intelligence musicale et à la virtuosité. Un grand bonhomme. "Rhume des Foins" est le seul morceau où il ne joue pas : un duo Forgas (tout) et Debricon (le reste - saxes et flûte). Comme "Monks" c'est un morceau qui repose sur presque rien, un infernal balancement des hanches, un riff de sax, un cri de flûte et ça dure. "Rhûme des Foins" est sournoisement dédié aux programmateurs de FIP, si friands de flûtes essoufflées et funky, dans l'espoir qu'il détournera dans leur cœur la version d'Herbie Mann de "Ain't No Sunshine". C'est un morceau extraordinaire et une conclusion parfaite pour une face complètement déconcertante et que l'on n'a pas fini de découvrir à la centième écoute... ma cellule est en passe de traverser la cire !

"My Trip" est une tout autre affaire : est-ce "mon trip" ou "mes tripes" ? Dix-huit minutes de bonheur, où la saga de Forgas est immergée dans une musique belle et solide. Cette seconde face est l'inverse de la première : un seul morceau, des thèmes enchevêtrés et développés à loisir, un morceau dans la plus pure tradition de Canterbury, la fantaisie maîtrisée, une musique de climats et d'arrangements à la fois ténus et évidents. Tout est composé et pourtant semble improvisé. Une musique NATURELLE, à mi-chemin entre la fraîcheur de "Moon In June" et les plaisirs de "Nine Feet Underground" de Caravan. Soft Machine est mort, Gong est mort, Caravan est mort, Hatfield and the North est mort, Matching Mole aussi, mais Forgas a repris le flambeau. Tous les musiciens ont vécu ce "trip", ça se sent, de Gérard Prévost omniprésent à Jean-Pierre Fouquey (claviers) et Patrick Tillemann - un duo admirable. Le morceau commence sur une urgence frénétique devient de plus en plus cool pour fini sur un splendide solo de sax de Bruce Grant, dans le rôle de Jimmy Hastings de Caravan (cf. "For Richard") ou d'Elton Dean, jazzy à souhait, et une étrangeté bien à la Forgas pour guitare et petite boîte à musique. Quand vous aurez digéré la face A, comptez encore deux ans pour tout apprécier de la face B".


Teddy Bonzo


"Patrick Forgas' début album, Cocktail (originally released in 1977, but reissued by Muséa in 2008 with 13 bonus tracks), would not be misplaced among the output of other non-English Canterbury bands, such as Supersister or Picchio Dal Pozzo. As the colourful, cartoon-like cover artwork immediately suggests, this is not the kind of music that takes itself too seriously, in spite of the high technical quotient of the performances. Forgas' Wyatt-like vocals (admittedly a bit of an acquired taste), with their quintessentially French air of sophisticated nonchalance, add to this relaxed, feel-good atmosphere.

The first ten tracks - most of them no longer than a couple of minutes - are those featured on the original version of the album. The 18-minute suite "My Trip", strategically placed in the tenth slot, comes in a way as a surprise. The album's undisputed highlight, it is one of those compositions that are almost impossible to describe effectively, on account of its extremely diverse structure. While all the instruments contribute to the build-up of this tour de force, the real star of "My Trip" is Gérard Prévost's bass. A former member of Magma offshoot Zao, Prévost really makes the difference here, his stunning performance holding an otherwise rather fragmented track together. Opening in classic jazz-rock fashion, with echoes of Bruford here and there, it then turns more experimental, with Forgas' scat-like vocalising, and lyrical violin strains to soften the atmosphere.

The bass is also at the forefront in the brisk, uptempo "Orgueil", coupled with clear, tinkling guitar; while "Monks", which also features Canterbury's trademark fuzzed-organ sound at the beginning, is built upon a steadily weaving main theme, enriched by violin and flute. Forgas' elegantly measured drumming is a core feature of all the songs, enhancing even very short offerings such as "Reflet D'Ail" or "Vol D'Hirondelles". His peculiar singing style (a falsetto that sometimes reminded me of The Northettes, even more so than Robert Wyatt) fits the nature of the compositions, in which classic Canterbury stylings meet with funky touches (as in the almost danceable rhythm and vocals of "Rhume Des Foins"), besides the more obvious jazz influences. The latter are very prominent in the title-track, whose smooth, almost lazy flow reflects the carefree attitude implied by the album cover artwork.

The thirteen bonus tracks include alternate versions of some of the original songs, as well as previously unreleased material. The latter ranges from the oddly infectious tune of "Magie Major" to the darker, electronics-infused atmosphere of "Arrête-Toi" and "Espoir". Somewhat frustratingly, none of those tracks (with the sole exception of the demo version of "My Trip"), is longer than four minutes. While all adequate, they are not what I would call indispensable: the bass-driven "Nos Cheveux Emmêlés", with its relaxed, jazzy pace and Canterbury-style organ in the background, is the only song that actually stands out. In spite of the album's undeniable strengths, it should also be stressed that 73 minutes are a bit excessive for the average listener's attention span, in particular for those who prefer to listen to albums in one sitting. On the other hand, Muséa Records deserve praise for having rescued it from oblivion, even if not all the bonus tracks are up to scratch. Highly recommended to Canterbury and classic jazz-rock/fusion fans, as well as to those who appreciate an outstanding rhythm section, Cocktail is a very enjoyable, uplifting effort, worthy of a solid 4-star rating".