Thursday, July 1, 2010
Arsis - Désordres (Circum-Disc, 2010) ****
Like with Jim Black, the album starts quite nice and sweet, with soft trumpet over plucked folksy guitar chords, and once you're sucked into this welcome universe of warm sentiments, almost lulled to sleep by the predictability of what comes next, a short pause announces a tempo change, rapid beats and a wildly distorted trumpet, while the guitar keeps playing its nice chord changes.
The next five tracks form one long suite, starting with eery electronic sounds, gradually shifting into one long tone, changing into a high speed fusion-like long unison succession of phrases by guitar and trumpet, the basis for some long and aggressive expansive soloing, yet slowing down again for trumpet and arco bass repeating the initial theme. You get the gist: four guys with great technical skills, having fun while sufficiently daring to look for innovative angles. Yes, the entertainment factor is high : they seek effects, whether in the all too obvious contrasts between speed and slowness, noise and calm, the predictability of some of the changes, the demonstration of their instrumental prowess or their rapid-fire interplay. That's part of the fun. Yet they add more to this. This is - luckily! - not fusion!
The music is clever, and puts you on the wrong foot regularly, and they do bring some strong powerful music, with nice compositions, with real drive and emotional delivery. The long "Volte Face", for instance, is a strong piece full of agony and distress, full of avant-garde explorative power, and ending in refined resignation, majestically supported by the arco bass, then shifting to chaos, which turns into a kind of heavy metal unison line between drums and guitar, in stark contrast with the slow trumpet playing.
Relatively accessible, but with sharp fangs.
Listen and buy from Circum-Disc.