Patrick Marcel – Bagnols
From Patrick Marcel – Ostinato
Self-released, 1985, France

Some musicians are absolutely not defined by their preferred instrument (think about Brian Eno for example), others strongly are (Jaco Pastorius and his « bass of Doom »). Weirdly for someone who might only know Patrick Marcel from the music recorded on his only album, Ostinato, he falls under the second category. Patrick Marcel has been devoted his whole life to his beloved instrument, the guitar. He started teaching the guitar in 1977 in Lyon, before creating his own school, dedicated to this instrument, in 1987.

As strange as it might sounds, Ostinato is actually a guitar album. Not the kind of guitar you might know about, but a very particular and rather obscure one : the guitar synth. Launched in 1977 by Roland,  the GR-300,the first commercial guitar synth, evolved over the years to become MIDI-compatible by the mid-1980’s. The instrument never became madly popular but a few noteworthy musicians used it quite a lot, the most famous guitar synth user being Pat Metheny. Patrick Marcel was probably one of the first French guitar player to show some enthusiasm for this new kind of instrument.

There’s little doubt that Metheny has been a major influence on Patrick Marcel, and so probably were legendary fusion acts like Weather Report. But one may also find the record quite « French » as we can clearly hear the influence of French cosmic music (and retrospectively, some great French library wizards…) on the 8 songs on Ostinato. There’s also something quite ECM-like in the melodies (probably not on Bagnols though).

Bagnols is probably the most surprising tune on Ostinato, with its upbeat drum machine programmation and its strange progression scheme. The progressive nature of the composition gives the song an uplifting quality, which is shared with many other songs on the album, though they are all going in different directions. Projection, for example, is a beautiful ambient piece while Afrolydien (check the video below) is a slightly ethno jazz-fusion tune.

Thanks Robert Benjamin for your precious help, and thanks Patrick Marcel, for this album, ahead of its time !

Extra s/o to Maurice Jean, the sculptor and Eric Pastor for the artwork.

 

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