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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Free Unfold Trio - Ballades (Ayler Records, 2009) ****½

Two years ago I got quite excited by the debut album of the Free Unfold Trio on the French Amor Fati label, with Jobic Le Masson on piano, Benjamin Duboc on bass and Didier Lasserre on drums, three of the most forward-looking musicians in France at the moment. While I loved the density, nervous agitation and telepathic interaction of the band for its first release, the trio has now moved into a totally different direction with their second release, creating lots of open space in between the notes and the sounds, yet maintaining the same level of tension, like suspense being built up in a movie. That tension is maintained by the permanent contradiction between the lightness and the openness of the texture on the one hand, and the dark and gloomy undertone of the slow development of the improvisations on the other. The overall approach has a lot in common with the WHO trio's "Less Is More": sparse notes of the piano interact with finely chosen notes on the bass and accurate percussive effects, creating a musical universe that is quite inviting without being familiar. Like on their first album, the three musicians find each other blindly, which contributes to the overall cohesiveness and strength of their musical vision. The album is quite short by today's standards, less than thirty minutes in total, but that's for sure it's only downside. Excellent.

Listen to extracts from "Au Départ, Les Oiseaux" and to "Seulement L'Air".

Watch an extract from a recent concert, which sounds quite (super) fast and excited compared to their latest album.

© stef