Reviewed by Joe
Let's not beat around the bush, this is one hell of a record. I have to wonder how come I've never heard of these guys before? Luckily, for me, Sylvian Didou dropped me a line from Nantes (France) to see if I'd be interested to hear his record, ObLik: order disorder. ObLik's bandcamp site describes their music as: "A la croisée entre le jazz et la musique improvisée, cette formation mélange tradition et modernité"*, which indeed sums up the group's music very succinctly. The album, out on the small French label Ormo Music, is an outlet for several of Didou's projects.
In a time when jazz tends to be based around the virtuosic soloist, this record demonstrates how the group is stronger than the individual. The album has a fantastic collection of compositions which enable the superb ensemble to create many delightful musical episodes. Composer and bassist, Sylvain Didou, has made some remarkable arrangements which really hold together well, describing the compositions as 'Mingus-esque' might give you some sort of clue as to the direction the music takes.
The quality of the music means that each track has plenty of high points, great melodies, group and solo improvisations, rhythmical developments, in fact so much it's nigh on impossible to pick any one thing out. Of the ten pieces, the amazing opening piece Le Chat (tk1) takes us on a thirteen minute tour which immediately makes you curious to find out what will follow. The stuttering melody and sprinkled piano lines leads us into a complex arrangement where the whole groups comes together to play a looping melody. The horns are split up into various configurations so that some play the unison melody whereas others join the piano and bass to play a counter melody. Its a powerful start to the album. The melodies of Longitudinal (tk2), Jazz, Jazz (tk3), Yeah (tk5) and Enea (tk8) are pieces which particularly shine out brightly. Other pieces, such as Perdrigon (tk7) may start with a skilfully arranged melody for all, but soon the ensemble dives into free form improvisation where everyone adds their voice as needed. A track such a 3D (tk9) builds from a tenor sax/bass duet into a finely detailed miniature piece that has a sax line which holds the composition together whilst the other instruments gradually creep in. The soloists all come up with fine offerings all around, but, interestingly no one soloist grips the limelight, making the album uniform throughout.
As I mentioned earlier, the way the compositions are built reminds me a little of the way Charles Mingus liked to compose, finding ways to inspire his players but also to work within the framework of each piece, which could include tempo changes, stop-time and much more. Another reference is the ensembles sound - partly due to the groups make up - echoes, in a way, Elton Dean's Ninesence, mixing styles and strong melodies to great effect.
I said at the beginning this a very fine album which has many strengths. It's certainly one of the best albums I've heard this year, and I suggest that you rush off to ObLik's bandcamp site, give it a listen, and see if you agree!
ObLik is: Pierre-Yves Merel - Tenor sax; Alan Regardin - Trumpet; Alexis Persigan - Trombone; Cyril Trochu - Piano; Fabrice L'Hotellier - drums; Sylvian Didou - Double bass.
* = Translation: Somewhere between jazz and improvised music, this group mixes tradition and modernity"