Pascal Comelade is alive. That is the final conclusion that is drawn from Constellation Comelade , the documentary about the French musician that opens on May 23. I live in every way, including the creative one. Comelade, who will turn 65 on June 30, could perfectly live on the fifty or so albums that he has published since 1975, but if something is clear in the 52 minutes of footage, he is still determined to look ahead and does not feel the need to remember last. Comelade is anything but nostalgic.
In his opinion, he is not an esthete either: “I don't want to do anything nice. But in the end it turns into beautiful ”, he affirms in the documentary. Perhaps because of that inner will that everything is a little broken, he is classed as an experimental musician, whatever he does, and for decades he has focused on melodies. He sees himself as a popular musician who uses unusual elements: from toy pianos, which are his most recognizable brand, to hundreds of gadgets (from fair trumpets to plastic dolls, balloons or bells) used by his faithful saxophonist and clarinet player Pep Pascual.
"I don't want to do anything nice. But in the end it becomes pretty ", says the artist in the Luis Ortas film
Constellation Comelade accompanies him in the process of creating his latest album, Deviationist muzak , an exceptional moment in his career because he used to take a week to record an album, sometimes he did it in just two days, and this particular one has taken him three years. Edited in October 2019, it should have meant the end of a stage, the climax of which came weeks before, on September 22, 2019 in Barcelona. That night a concert was held that was announced as his farewell to the stage. Many of his collaborators participated over the years. La Cobla Sant Jordi, Albert Pla, Jaume Sisa, the poet Enric Casasses, Pau Riba, the recently deceased Víctor Nubla or Gerad Quintana, from Sopa de Cabra. "But, as Pep Pascual says in the documentary, 'everything in Pascal is contradictory.' Now he assures that he has not retired from the stage, only from the large productions, ”says Luis Ortas, the director of the documentary. This 48-year-old Mallorcan, a follower of Comelade since he was 13, obtained financing from the Pyrenees-Mediterranean Euroregion, what he calls "the territory of Pascal", for a documentary that will be shown on public television in Catalonia, Occitania and the Balearic Islands. "It is an area that did not seem real, but an artificial creation, but that with Pascal makes sense," explains the director.
Comelade was born in Montpellier to a Catalan family. Her father, a psychiatrist, directed the Association of Catalan Students of Montpellier, and was responsible for the representatives of the nova cançó playing in that city, such as Lluís Llach or Ovidi Montllor. Her mother is the author of several books on Catalan medieval cuisine. At the age of 20, he moved to Barcelona, where he settled in Llach's house. Half a life has passed in that city, with intervals. Between 1975 and 1982 he embarks on an experimental stage, obsessed with synthesizers and sharp guitars. Then a profound change would come, the melody: "The origin of evil is the melody," he jokes. In 1983 he began to make almost always instrumental miniatures, playful songs that, due to their apparent simplicity and delicacy, were defined by some as minimalist, but which, when closely observed, became enormous. A process that would culminate with L'argot du bruit, his 1998 album, which includes the beautiful 'Love Too Soon', a collaboration with PJ Harvey. Two years later he would perform Kurt Weill's 'September Song' with Robert Wyatt. In the 2000s, his sound drifted towards something more festive, more cabaret, a sort of postmodern festival always sealed by his strong personality.
"Pascal has an obsessive relationship with his work," says Ortas, who previously directed another project on Miquel Barceló. It was the Mallorcan painter who put them in contact. “Our first meeting was tense. I told him that his music reminded me of Yann Tiersen, and it was as if he had mentioned the devil. Later I discovered that Jean-Pierre Jeunet had written Amélie listening to music by Pascal. I was thinking that he would make the music, but they didn't understand each other and he ended up ordering it from Tiersen ”.
A man of few words, with a particular sense of humor and little patience to deal with the industry and the press - at the last minute he refused to answer an interview because he did not like some of the questions - Comelade's special character is something that the participants in the documentary affect, from Barceló to Jaume Sisa, which summarizes in a sentence the conclusion reached by the film: “Creation without madness is not creation. It is thought, logic, philosophy. Creation requires breaking molds. And, in that sense, Pascal is a true artist. He searches, he explores, he gets confused, he goes wrong, he does well, he retraces his steps, he advances ... He is alive. ”
FIVE DISCOGRAPHIC MILESTONES, BY THE FILM DIRECTOR
THE PRIMITIVISM (1987)
It is one of the records that best symbolizes the Comelade of the eighties. It is the album with which the majority of Spanish followers came into contact with the Comelade universe in Spain at the end of that decade. The typography was put by the poet Enric Casasses' hand. Out of tune pianos, toy trumpets and a Ceseepe cover are the essence of this album reissued in 2015 on vinyl and CD, which expands the repertoire of the original edition.
THE RED PIANO (2008)
This album appeared as a comic book in 2008, a year after Max, a collaborator with EL PAÍS and a friend of Pascal, won the national comic award. The volume recounts the adventures of an imaginary Pascal Comelade, or not so much, in a world full of strange characters who resemble Pascal's friends, Enric Cassases, Pau Riba, Jaume Sisa, who are investigated by Madonna in search of clues to find a mysterious red piano. As for music, we found an album, called El Steinway a la Guillotina , which can be found separately and has a reissue in 2014. This album reflects Pascal's time with the Bel Canto Orquestra, an elastic orchestra with musicians from truth and lie that they entered and left the formation depending on the concert. It is an album that reflects the time of the concerts in the Gràcia neighborhood of Barcelona and the concerts drawn in which Max performs live illustrations that end and begin with the songs.
PASCAL COMELADE & LA COBLA DE SANT JORDI (2011)
As a child, Pascal settled with his parents in French Catalonia, where they lived Catalan culture through, above all, folk music and gastronomy. Pascal combines all his cultural influences with the philosophy of the combined plate, in which he mixes patafísica, surrealism from Cadaqués, the town festivals, Nino Rota and a butifarra that could well explode at the Liceu in Barcelona, as a great joke that attempts against the bourgeoisie that attends the opera. Thanks to the work of La Cobla de Sant Jordi and the musician Pep Pascual, this album reinvents the concept of cobla, the Catalan fanfare, and works wonderfully as a soundtrack to the book La foam of the days by Boris Vian.
ROCANROLORAMA 1974-2016 (2016)
In Pascal's world everything moves and everything changes. It always puzzles and this forces you to be vigilant. This is a compilation in which Pascal gathers his discography from the origins. But if by chance someone has one of the original cassettes or vinyls, they will discover that it does not sound the same, or perhaps the songs do not have the same title. This compilation is tricky, since Pascal records some percussion or an instrument that in the past did not have his attention. However, for the new curious who want to start in the Pascalian universe, it is the best reference to approach the musical evolution of the endless artist.
DEVIATIONIST MUZAK (2019)
This is Pascal's last album, which shows that he is alive and that he continues to evolve. Here we find the music that inspired Miquel Barceló to do his Ghost Image performance . The album's title is a joke that refers to muzak music, ambient music or piped music that sounds in stores, or on phone calls, also known as elevator music. Pascal laughs at himself. Good music to celebrate a virtual galactic guateque in times of social distancing. As always, visionary.