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Patch Work Music presentation

Patch Work Music from yesterday to today

The basic idea or concept behind PWM
could be summed up in one word: "Together".

Bertrand Loreau

A dedication from Klaus Schulze for GAMEA

A dedication from Klaus Schulze for GAMEA


To understand the history of PWM,
you have to go back to the 70s

Sequentia Legenda : Can you tell us about the origins of Patch Work Musique? Its origins, its path, its evolution?

Bertrand Loreau : To understand the history of Patch Work Music (PWM), you have to go back to the 70s, when there was an association called les amis de Klaus Schulze, then GAMEA. This association brought together fans of the composer of Timewind, but not only. Christian Piednoir, Jean-Christophe Allier, Dominique Daviot and myself were active members of GAMEA (Groupe d'Animation Musicale Electronique d'Avenir).

GAMEA had had contacts with Klaus Schulze, thanks in particular to Pascal Bouchez, who was invited to Germany, with Klaus Dieter Mueller too, and finally with the Innovative Communication label. So in the early 80s I took it upon myself to import records from the IC label, created by Klaus Schulze, like the first Robert Schroeder records. In '82 or '83, this group of around 70 enthusiasts was struggling a bit, probably because we were young, students or people just starting out in the world of work, and we didn't have a lot of resources to organise or create projects. You have to remember what the world was like before the Internet: everything we could envisage doing involved exchanges by post and only, in extreme cases, by telephone, because communications outside the department were very expensive. It was still the early 80s when two members of GAMEA, Christian Jacob and Serge Leroy, wanted to create a new association that would develop GAMEA's activities with new ambitions. The creation of this new association was encouraged by the GAMEA board and its members were encouraged to join the new association: Crystal Lake. GAMEA was then dissolved. Olivier Briand, Lionel Palierne, Jean-Christophe, Christophe Martin, Michel Boegler, myself and others joined Crystal Lake and some of us even took part in a trip with Crystal Lake to Sheffield in 1985, to experience the UK Electronica electronic music festival, which enabled us to see or meet people like Mark Jenkins, Manuel Gottsching, Harald Grosskopf, Michel Huyen, Ian Boddy and Steve Joliffe.

You may also remember that musicians, including myself, who had been part of GAMEA, performed at a concert-festival in Chatenay Malabry, a day of electronic music organised by Crystal Lake, which introduced many people to the group Lightwave.

Bertrand Loreau - Chatenay Malabry concert 1985

Bertrand Loreau - Chatenay Malabry concert 1985

In 1986, former GAMEA members and Crystal Lake members met up again at the Tangerine Dream concert at the Olympia, organised by the Parisian association, and had the chance to meet Edgar Froese, Chris Franke and Paul Haslinger.

It became clear after the Tangerine Dream concert that it marked the end of an era. Crystal Lake was developing its links with the Paris region, opening up more and more to new-age music, ambient, etc. and supporting the experimental music of Lightwave. Crystal Lake was gradually distancing itself from the fundamentals that people like Olivier Briand, Jean-Christophe and I were so keen on, and was increasingly favouring a fairly intellectual approach to electronic music which, in my opinion, was inappropriate for music that remains fundamentally simple, even when it is of high quality. Meanwhile, the passion for the synthesiser was still very much alive in the 80s in Nantes, and it was obvious that this effervescence would provoke initiatives. The first to take action was Nicolas Moreau, who decided to create the Association Pour La Recherche Musicale (A.P.R.M.). Nicolas, who was a musician as well as an engineer by training, had the idea of trying to bring together musicians from the world of classical music and that of the synthesiser, so that ideas for the invention of new instruments could be born. I have a vague recollection of a meeting with Christian Villeneuve, a composer and teacher at the Conservatoire.The A.P.R.M. organised an electronic music festival with concerts and an instrument showroom. (The Synthfest concept had already been invented.) Jean-Philippe Rykiel was invited to play, as were the groups Olaf Potorose (with Nicolas Moreau), Noa (with Christophe Poisson at EMS AKS), Krill (Lionel and Bertrand) and Didier Bocquet, who had released his first album. The festival, entitled 'Synthés Folie', was unique in that it took place over the course of an entire week, in several of Nantes' concert halls and in several of the city's districts. The Association Musique et Technologie (A.M.T.) was born a few months later with simpler ambitions, such as producing a fanzine and organising electronic music concerts. It published the journal AME and organised a concert day featuring a number of local personalities, including Christophe Martin de Montagu and his group Kito, Olivier Briand and his trio Synthax Error, and others. A.M.T. had a relatively short life, and the early 90s were characterised by a certain passivity on the part of Nantes' synthesiser enthusiasts. Olivier Briand and I had started producing records, notably with the MUSEA label, and we were probably concentrating a bit on ourselves. But something clicked when I read an article one day in 1994 or 1995 which tended to play down what Klaus Schulze had contributed to electronic music, and I rushed to Olivier Briand and told him: I rushed to Olivier Briand and told him: "I think we need to re-establish certain truths and to do that we need to recreate an association that will reaffirm the importance that Klaus Schulze has always had in electronic music, and which will say that he is the symbol of authenticity that inspires people of our generation of musicians. ". At the time, our friend Olivier Bégué was publishing the fanzine Rubycon, but in 1995 Olivier Briand and I agreed that the project of our new association would be a little different, promoting French productions as much as possible, without denying the influence of the real pioneers in the field of synthesizers.

Patch Work Music (PWM) was born and, in order to realise its ambitions, quickly set to work on a compilation album to affirm its project to promote French music. The association devoted a lot of energy to writing and distributing a high-quality fanzine: KS mag. The letters "KS" were a reference to Schulze, but also to "Keyboards and Sequencers".

KS mag

Two years later, PWM had, unfortunately, fallen asleep. It was more than ten years before Olivier Briand, standing in my garden, told me he wanted PWM to wake up. His idea was for a website to sell our music online. Olivier was convinced that we had to take advantage of the new ways of consuming music, by making mp3 files available on the internet. Tired, or disillusioned with the work of the association, I eventually decided to follow Olivier in his project. I was going through a period of loss of musical inspiration and I thought that, after all, getting involved with and for others would give me the desire to create again. In the winter of 2009, I decided to invite a dozen or so musicians and friends to a meeting in August to validate the decision to create the PWM-Distrib website. We were counting on Samuel Vallé, musician and IT specialist, to build the site. Almost all the artists present agreed to share the cost of creating the site.

Olivier Briand - Synthfest 2012 in Nantes

Olivier Briand - Synthfest 2012 in Nantes

The rest is history, with another milestone reached when PWM entrusted a complete overhaul of the site to David Perbal, also a musician and IT specialist. Patch Work Music also got back to producing newspapers. We created Minimag, La Lettre de Musique,
Le Calepin, and the newspapers we know today. Synthfest is undoubtedly the culmination of a history of electronic music fan associations that began in the 70s, and which saw Klaus Schulze as the best representative of a certain conception of electronic music. However, while some people now see the festival as a celebration of electronic instruments, when I had the idea and laid the foundations for its organisation, the aim was for it to be a showcase for Patch Work Music, while also playing an educational and cultural role. When Olivier wanted the festival to be accompanied by concerts, we shared the idea that the festival should offer a stage to musicians who don't find many elsewhere. Today, the festival has taken a different direction, perhaps a necessary one, but its ambition is no longer the one we set out to achieve.

Synthfest 2016 in Nantes

Synthfest 2016 in Nantes


PWM could be summed up in one word: "Together"

Sequentia Legenda : Can you describe PWM today, its philosophy and how it works?

Bertrand Loreau : The basic idea or concept of PWM could be summed up in the word "Together". PWM would have no reason to exist if its project wasn't to bring together people who enjoy doing something together. Some people may think in terms of numbers: how many records do you sell? But is that what matters? I think the most important thing is to find in the association the listening, the desire, the sharing of emotions. The most important thing is not the figures, but the quality of the exchanges and the emulation that can come out of it. I often think that we can draw a parallel with what the Impressionist painters experienced at the beginning of the XXᵉ century. Founders of a school, they met, motivated each other together, I think. Was the most important thing for these painters to become celebrities or to advance their art?


Valentin at Synthfest 2017 in Nantes

Valentin at Synthfest 2017 in Nantes


Still looking ahead to great things

Sequentia Legenda : How do you see the association developing, its future, and what could the PWM of the future look like?

Bertrand Loreau : I think that Patch Work Music has done some great things, particularly with its publications, Synthfest, compilation albums and by supporting musicians to get them into international catalogues. While remaining attached to the physical record, I now believe that we need to diversify the means of staying in touch with fans of progressive electronic music so as not to disappear into the mass of available means of information. At the same time, however, I've always thought that it would be a mistake to try to please the many, at any price, by any means. I think that PWM will continue to exist if people feel that by going to PWM they are finding a certain kind of music and people who form a small community that defends a 'certain' kind of electronic music and certain values, such as the belief that nothing can replace the record that you take the time to discover.

I think that PWM will increasingly need to bring together musicians who are collectively involved in projects. Trying to adapt to current tastes by opening up to different genres would be the surest way of drowning in a plethora of offerings. On the other hand, I think we need to move beyond the idea that the common denominator between PWM musicians is the use of the synthesiser. Without going so far as to promote acoustic music, we can see that a musician who plays the piano is sometimes closer to the spirit of PWM than many people who play the modular synthesiser or the drum machine. For many people, electronic instruments have become toys. Playing electronic music is as much fun as playing tennis or Playstation.

At the moment I have an idea to create a PWM label, which would be a collaborative label. The idea would be to take the association's philosophy further. Perhaps PWM should also defend its identity - that of French progressive electronic music - by publishing works that go a bit further than a fanzine.

To conclude: I hope that others like myself will be leaders and manage projects. Motivation wears thin. Patch Work Music may come to an end tomorrow and its balance sheet will still be very positive, but it can still look forward to great things. You have to realise that anything that doesn't move forward, that doesn't take risks, that doesn't unite people around objectives is almost certain to disappear.

Sequentia Legenda : On behalf of all the musicians, I'd like to thank you very much for all the attention and energy you've shown, and for everything you've done for PWM.

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