Borrowing its name from Jacques Tricatel, a character portrayed by Louis de Funès in the 1976 movie "L'aile ou la cuisse" (The Wing and the Thigh) - this, in turn, ispired by Jacques Borel, father of the "Restoroute" restaurant chain - French label Tricatel was founded in 1996 by musician and producer Bertrand Burgalat.
Since its creation, the label has been focused on releasing music of a futuristic lounge, refined pop, downtempo easy-listening and retro-chic nature. Proudly independent, Tricatel payed homage to labels like The Compact Organisation and él Records, that have been a source of inspiration for Burgalat.
During the years the label has released music by April March, Eggstone, Count Indigo, The High Llamas, Etienne Charry and many other artists, including veteran composer André Popp, actress Valérie Lemercier, writers Michel Houellebecq and Jonathan Coe, and - of course - its founder and gran maestro Betrand Burgalat.
The label had an high profile in France and many of its releases received huge critical acclaims both there and abroad, sadly this was not matched by commercial success and sales. Coupled with distribution problems, Tricatel was forced to slow down its release schedule after a few years of frenetic activity.
Tricatel has turned fifteen in april 2011, the following is an excerpt taken from a feature/interview by David McKenna taken from The Quietus website, the complete version is available here.
Bertrand Burgalat in the late 90s / early 00s
What does it mean to have kept Tricatel going for 15 years?
"Not much really - I am not good with numbers. I'm starting to realize that I may spend the rest of my life doing the same things: struggling to finance projects and to release them, getting discouraged then trying again."
How have you responded to changes in the music industry over the past 15 years?
"The situation for Tricatel is much better now than 15 years ago. The crisis in music industry has been an excellent thing for people in the margins like us. Now that record sales are disappointing for everyone and not only for us it's more useless than ever to be calculating. You have to do the music you'd like to listen to - even if your music is super opportunistic it may fail too. A lot of people are not used to making records with low budgets while paying musicians and technicians decently, whereas it has always been our main concern.
In fact, the only thing that I don't like here in France is that most records that sell are not catchy, they are more fake quality for bobos [bohemians], and I have always preferred a good song from Britney Spears to a boring album from Björk."
Modelled more on él Records (which in the 80s was a home to Momus, regular Burgalat collaborator Louis Philippe, Shock Headed Peters and Marden Hill amongst others) than Factory, Tricatel was set up, in Burgalat's own words, as a "fantasy" label with its cast of backroom boys, muses (American singer April March, French comedy actress Valérie Lemercier) and even a proper house band in the shape of AS Dragon. Undoubtedly a post-modern project, it seemed as though it was trying to establish an alternative variété: an idea of what modern mainstream French pop could be if it was Boris Vian, Yé-Yé, Pierre Henry, Gainsbourg, Michel Polnareff, cool 60s film music, uncool 70s MOR, Marc Cerrone, the soundtrack to La Boum and French Touch all mixed up.
In 1999 Tricatel launched a succulent initiative in the form a vinyl-only series aptly named "Tricatel 25cm Club". Initially, these 10" releases were only available by post and had to be ordered directly from the label, but sometimes later they also received a wider distribution through independent music stores.
Most of these records were pressed on clear vinyl; probably published in a limited edition, it is unclear how many copies of each release exist... The fourth number in this serie was "Prototypes" by Bertrand Burgalat, which is the subject of this post.
The following biography is taken From Wikipedia, with a few edits and corrections:
Bertrand Burgalat was born in the Corsican town of Bastia in 1963. His father, a high-ranking civil servant, was the sub-prefect of the island at the time, but as often happens in this profession, the family moved several times in the course of Burgalat senior's career so young Bertrand grew up in several different towns in France.
Obsessed with Classical Music from an early age, Burgalat apparently became fascinated with the possibilities of Pop Music after seeing Pink Floyd in concert when he was 10 years old.
Burgalat is well known for his cool, breezy '60s-style pop sound, something he has lent to his production work with Air, April March, A.S Dragon, Dalcan, Jad Wio, Mick Harvey, Louis Philippe and the French writer Michel Houellebecq.
His musical influences include the Yé-Yé sound of French pop made famous by France Gall, Françoise Hardy and Brigitte Fontaine, as well as the singers Jacques Dutronc and Serge Gainsbourg, as well as the 'Folk-music of the Ruhr' created by Kraftwerk.
Reputed to possess one of the most acute ears in the business, BB (a nickname he shares with Brigitte Bardot) also draws inspiration from 20th century French classical composers such as Maurice Ravel, Francis Poulenc and Olivier Messiaen, and was greatly influenced by the writings of cult French journalist-cum-pop visionary Yves Adrien.
At the age of 25, he produced the Laibach's album "Let It Be", which is an entire cover of The Beatles' album of the same name. In 1995, he remixed and rearranged the Renegade Soundwave song "Positive ID" (as "Positive BB"). In 2001 he also had the chance to remix Depeche Mode ("Freelove") and to create a completely new version of "Easy Tiger", an instrumental song from the album "Exciter", which were well received by all the devoted Depeche Mode fans.
His own albums, "The Ssssound of Mmmusic" (2000), "Portrait-Robot" (2005), "Chéri B.B." (2007) and "Toutes Directions" (2012), fuse subtle Electronica, Psychedelia, soaring backing choruses and string sections with wry lyrics (some of them written by Philippe Katerine, April March and Alfreda Benge, Robert Wyatt's longtime companion), and finely crafted melodies.
Burgalat is also expert at using discords and dissonances in his harmonies, some of which bear more relation to Avant-garde Classical music than to Pop. On his album "Bertrand Burgalat Meets A.S. Dragon" (2001), Burgalat places his crooning style directly in contrast with A.S Dragon's hard-groove rock/jam-band sensibility.
A more recent picture of Bertrand Burgalat, circa 2012
"Prototypes" contains the following tracks:
01. Biscarosse (4:24)
02. Haute volupté (1:53)
03. Albo (3:59)
04. Les amplis de Mayence (3:27)
05. Doctor Timsit laser (1:44)
06. Arc en ciel rue d'Ulm (3:47)
All tracks were remastered from the original 10" vinyl in January 2014 and are available in FLAC lossless format or high-quality 320 Kbps MP3 files; both formats include scans of the complete original artwork.
Please have a look at the comments for the download links.
"Prototypes" offers six tracks recorded between 1995 and 1997; these are mostly instrumental with a few exceptions where we hear Bertrand vocalizing some melodies. Here's the complete credits and personnel list of the EP:
Performed and produced by Bertrand Burgalat.
Mastering: Hervé Dutournier (Translab)
"Biscarosse" and "Haute volupté" recorded at Tricatel Studio, Summer 1997.
"Les Amplis de Mayence" and "Docteur Timsit laser" recorded at Tricatel Studio, Autumn 1997.
"Albo" recorded at Studios de la Seine, Summer 1995, with assistance by Gaël Robin.
"Arc en ciel rue d'Ulm" recorded at Mute / Studios de la Seine, Summer 1995, with assistance by Gaël Robin.
Drums on "Albo": Richie Thomas
Viola on "Docteur Timsit Laser": Typhaine Pautrel
Violins on "Docteur Timsit Laser": Cyril Garac, Nathalie Marc and Romain Sennac
Strings on "Arc en cielrue d'Ulm": Covent Garden String Quartet
The following videos offer a preview of the remastered EP; for this purpose I chose my favourite tracks: "Biscarosse", and "Les amplis de Mayence", enjoy!
Althought "Prototypes" is sold-out since long time, there are many other Bertrand Burgalat releases available for sale on the Tricatel website, including his latest CD album "Toutes directiones" that also comes as a limited edition double-vinyl, yum!
New Tricatel releases have also been published during the recent years, including cool and stunning albums by Jef Barbara and Chassol; I strongly encourage you to have a look and discover - or re-discover - one of the coolest french labels of all times.
More information about Tricatel and Bertrand Burgalat is available here:
If you have any other useful information about Bertrand Burgalat and "Prototypes" - especially corrections and improvements to this post - or if you spot any dead links, please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!