Years: 1972 - 1974
Styles: Art Rock, Canterbury Scene, Jazz Rock, Progressive Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Symphonic Rock
Dirk Bogaert - Flute, Vocals
Frank Wuyts - Keyboards
Jakub “Kuba” Szczepanski - Violin
Patrick Cogneaux - Bass Guitar
Jacky Mauer - Drums
Story of Pazop is a story of chasing a dream – pretty unsuccessful, though. Five grand musicians, mostly self taught, but nevertheless genius each in its own way, were not ready to adjust, to fall under the mark “commercial” – they better chose to split up than to conform.
Band Wallace Collection also was founded in 1968; its title derived from a famous London Museum exhibiting Flemish masterpieces. Band`s style was a pop and classical synthesis. It is also remarkable for using real string instruments instead of electronic substitutes, such as mellotron. Frank Wuyts, for example, played a Hohner organ which he had skillfully modified to produce unique sounds. In January 1970 Kuba Szczepanski who at the time was still playing in the Brussels Opera Philharmonic Orchestra, was invited to join the band. Though bit reluctantly, he accepted the invitation.
In time Waterloo`s britpop tendencies shifted towards more adventurous, jazzy sound foreshadowing Pazop`s progressive rock. Things changed and band members decided to disband in a friendly way. But Jacky, Dirk and Frank still wanted to continue to play together, and they knew what exactly. So they founded a band with bassist Patrick Cogneaux and violinist Kuba Szczepanski. Kuba and Nick left Wallace Collection in April 1972, willing to start their own band – an original, progressive music project. Frank told about this idea to his old friends from Waterloo – Dirk and Jacky – who had pretty similar idea in mind. All five musicians were from different geographical, cultural and linguistic origins: a Flemish, Dirk; a Walloon, Patrick; Frank – a Belgian of Polish origin; Jacky from Brussels, and a Pole, Kuba. At the beginning Frank and Dirk were responsible for the musical direction and composed all of the material. Dirk who possessed a powerful, harsh voice, took on vocal duties, writing ironic sketch-like lyrics, stories about particular characters or phenomena, such as schizophrenia, drugs and madness. The band was using flute and violin as both rhythm and solo instruments.
Initially the band was called Pas Op – it is Flemish for “warning”. In time the title transformed into Pazop that kind of complemented their experimentalist, mentalist progressive style of music. Lack of guitar only made their sound more unique. The music is very intriguing and at times mildly complex. Their musicianship was outstanding. These musicians definitely did not suffer from the lack of imagination and of professionalism as well. Musicians were so satisfied with their harmonic possibilities given by three solo instruments – flute, violin, keyboards – that they didn`t even try to find a guitarist.
They mixed their musical ideas together in order to create very original music, inspired by a variety of sources, from modern electrical jazz of Miles Davis, 20th century classic, progressive rock of King Crimson, Caravan, as well as eccentric and technically involved music of Frank Zappa. The group produced complex themes with many rhythmical breaks, time changes, sound collages, riffs and interwoven themes, atonal harmonies, intricate collaborations between keyboards, violin and flute.
All of the musicians had kept their day jobs and rehearsed in the evenings.
At the beginning when the Pazop felt ready to record their music, managers of the concern EMI gave them studio for 2 days and an excellent equipment to record a demo tape, but without signing a contract, because they were afraid that their “too uncommercial material” just won`t sell. The band recorded 4 songs. It is worth mentioning that these 4 tracks were meant for consumers of the pop-music and didn`t reflect band`s real profile at all. Szczepansky and Mauer took the demos and went to Paris. Unfortunately (or on the contrary, considering commercial nature of these songs) they didn`t succeed. Pazop`s musicians always shared the same joy of playing together, they soon left those commercial mistakes behind them, and gave free reign to their creativity.
In March 1972 manager Luigi Ogival at last took the band under his wing. They signed a 3-year contract with Ogival on March 9, 1972, which granted them the opportunity to record several singles and an album. Ogival booked Michael Magne`s studio at Herouville for 7 days in early July. The group recorded 18 tracks giving impression of a suite rather than 18 disjointed pieces.
Luigi Ogival organized a free concert, sponsored by radio RTL and PopMusic magazine, in order to introduce the group`s forthcoming album to the audience and press critics at the Salle Pleyel in Paris, on October 1972. However, only 80 people showed up. The group had decided to go along with Dirk`s suggestion to entitle the new album “Psychillis of a Lunatic Genius” but, when Barclay`s artistic director heard this title, he thought it was too “uncommercial”. He decided to release only the single. As a result, since Ogival was unable to raise the money to cover the studio costs, Michael Magne kept the master tapes for himself. By chance Jacky Mauer was able to borrow one of the master tapes for a weekend back in Brussels, and listened to it together with Alain Pierre who owned a small home studio. Alain made a copy of this tape for himself. In January 1973 the contract with Ogival was cancelled.
Their last concerts took place on the 6th and 7th July 1974 in Ressaix, Belgium. The musicians felt burnt out and dispirited by their collective misfortunes and difficulties in trying to obtain bookings and a record deal, as well as by their numerous failures to release the album. They had to survive financially and thus they decided to split up and end Pazop and try and realize themselves in other, more viable projects. Nevertheless none of them gained serious success. Kuba subsequently worked in the field of medicine and later settled himself in the Belgian Radio Orchestra. Bogaert and Mauer in 1977 recorded an album, working in the jazz-rock collective Abraxis. After that Bogaert started to work as a technician in Sylvain Van Holme`s studio, but Mauer established his own studio named “Le Shiva” in the same premises where the band Pazop was used to rehearse. Louis “Frank” Wuyts worked with different pop musicians and also participated in the experimental Belgian band Aksak Maboul. During later period of his creative work he participated in the band Musique Flexible where also played former participants of the Univers Zero, and released solo album with musicians from Henry Cow and Matching Mole. Patrick Cogneaux worked as a sound technician with many interesting musicians, including Cos, Kleptomania, Univers Zero, Allan Holdsworth and Terje Rypdal. He ended up as a technician in one of the Brussels radio stations.
After many years having been presumed lost, the original master tapes of the first album have now been discovered. It had to wait until nineties when the interest towards progressive music of these times was revived.
Album “Psychillis of a Lunatic Genius” was published in 1996 by Musea Records – a French non-profit record label dedicated to the promotion of Progressive Rock. Album contains all material that was recorded by the band during its existence except several pop-rock singles that were meant for the record companies and were completely uncharacteristic for the band. This CD is a testimony to the great value, longevity and originality of Pazop`s music. Pazop offers very original, complex progressive rock with continuous rhythmic and melodic changes. It is very unusual and original work. Breaking down these tracks is close to impossible. All 16 songs are excursions into the more avant-garde side of jazz rock which was touched upon by Matching Mole and National Health but never fully taken in. There are no weak songs on “Psychillis of a Lunatic Genius” and as a consequence this is an excellent album that comes close to being a masterpiece.
© Boar 2011 - 2019