French group born in 1989 from the chance meeting of a sewing machine and an umbrella on an operating table. Some liked Poulenc and the Canterbury School, others Ptôse, Krautrock and French song, others still Hungarian melodies or the nicely doctored sonic surprises from the FM band...
Clarinet, saxophone, electric bass, synthesizer and rhythm box were the first instruments taken up by the group.
This combination can be heard on their first cassette, "Le clos" (1990), which features highly "written", quite melodic, Belgian-oriented (Tuxedomoon, Made to Measure) compositions, with a darker side shades of Art Zoyd or Univers Zéro and a more distanced one, not unlike the Residents or Renaldo and the Loaf.
This trend continued with their first CD release, "Grands Succédanés" (1992), which included however two unexpected tracks, two ugly ducklings hatched during an improvisation session. The first departure from the strict rules of sacrosanct writing.
In early 1993, the improvisation sessions became more numerous. Eclectism was de rigueur and the studio soon turned into a thick jungle where one encountered the basic instruments, alongside with percussions, "squeaking rats", a dictating machine and other toy-instruments. These sessions were systematically recorded and stored for future use. Denis Frajerman later undertook to edit these dailies. The output of this experiment would make up most of the tracks on their second CD, "Trash et Artères" (1994).
This research work on sonic experimentation, collages and improvisation had a forerunner, "Extrême Ponction", a cassette released in 1992 which brought together compositions not designed for the usual line-up.
Along with those various works, Palo Alto wrote part of the score for a Pierre Schumacher film, "Histoire d'ombres" (broadcast on french TV France 2) and for which Jacques Barbéri (who doubles as a novelist) had written the story.
Will all these experiences, having to deal with the numerous instrumental and audiovisual projects, Palo Alto eventually adopted a variable, less heavy structure which allowed the four members to operate as minimal units (two or three members), even in solo.
Philippe Perreaudin and Philippe Masson have thus worked with Philippe Demontaut, a graphic artist, for a show produced at the Théâtre Clavel (Paris) in 1995 : "Qu'est-ce qui crée le mouvement ?"
Under the name of Palo Alto3, this collaboration went on with the adding of Jacques Barbéri, on a music project for videos produced by the Centre Georges-Pompidou. The first opus, Question d'observation, was done in 1995.
For his part, Denis Frajerman did the score for a concept album in collaboration with Jacques Barbéri (saxophone, words) and Omer Pesquer (illustration and graphic design) : "Le nom des arbres" .
He has also completed a musical suite from the literary universe of the french writer Antoine Volodine ("Les Suites Volodine", 5-track CD, Noise Museum)
The other members of the band are featured here and there on some of his compositions...
Early 1997, two new items added to the band's discography : "Le disque dur", a 13-track CD on the Organic label (Grenoble), and "Le cassette : alive anthology", a 13-track cassette on the Parisian label A contresens.
Mixing the different expressional means of the band-accoustic, electronic and doctored instruments, "Le disque dur" marks a radical departure from the improvisational direction of "Trash et artères". The emphasis is once more on writing, and the album heralds the arrival of more sophisticated rhythms.
Denis Frajerman's atmospheric tapes actually enhance the narrative bias of the whole.
Eric Roger (Sol Invictus) on trumpet and Laurent Pernice (from the french band Nox) on double bass enrich Palo Alto's sound palette.
"Le cassette" is a compilation of live recordings from 1993 to 1996. Side A features large excerpts from "Une nuit au Ciel", a show produced in Grenoble in May 1996 ; it's the live counterpart to the new album. Side B gathers rare tracks, most of them previously unreleased, recorded at the Etablissements phonographiques de l'Est, the Instants chavirés and the Théâtre
In 1998, Palo Alto will assert their collective identity, giving up the stilted and humdrum operating of the band in favour of encounters (of the stranger kind, preferably), multiple experiences and the exploring of new territories...