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Friday, May 16, 2014

L’Étau: Choses Clandestines (Disques Bloc Thyristors, 2014) *****

By Martin Schray

After having released Brigantin’s La Fièvre De L’Indépendance Jean-Noël Cognard (drums and percussion), the man behind Disques Bloc Thyristors, invited Great Britain’s top notch musicians Keith Tippet (piano) and Paul Rogers (bass), who have known each other for a very long time, and Luxembourgian free jazz legend Michel Pilz (bass clarinet), with whom he has worked on Binôme and Semelles De Fondation, for a studio session and a concert. The quartet turns out to be an ideal combination of personalities, almost like a band of brothers, a clash of two duos which seem to add up perfectly.  Cognard's unusual and risky approach of providing a rhythmic framework combined with Rogers' unique playing on his seven-stringed double bass is used by the two ardent and highly lyrical melodists Tippett and Pilz to explore unknown territories.

The studio album presents the musicians in all possible combinations (quartet, various trios, duos and solos), it is a journey into the acoustic possibilities of their instruments and the whole range this music has to offer – the harsh, energetic and iconoclastic sides as well as the  harmonic, intimate and spiritual ones. The studio part develops certain structures and themes which are readopted in the live performance. For instance, parts of “L’intrige devient plus sombre“ remind of the legendary David S. Ware Quartet with Matthew Shipp and William Parker and its central motif is used at the end of the first part of the live session again. Other highlights of the studio session are the exhilarating Pilz/Tippett duo on “Créer l’émotion puis la preserver”, Paul Rogers’ minimal figures which sound like outtakes of Steve Reich’s „Different Trains“, the Erik Satie moments on „Fondus dans l’arrière Plan“ and the quartet’s restrained energy  on  “Fondus dans l’arrière plan”.

In addition, the band even excels itself in the concert. “Une enseigne lumineuse faisant la réclame d’une revue musicale” and “Plancher authentique permettant de bien entendre les bruit des pas” display what is possible if musicians have the time to rehearse, to develop and to communicate with each other. Both performances present a rolling steam-engine – and Michel Pilz is the one who is responsible for switching on the turbo. Pilz, a European free jazz musician who has been on board since the beginning, adds wonderful colors to the improvisation with his bass clarinet, he yearns, he moans, he caresses the notes and pushes the others relentlessly – and the listeners are rewarded with real free jazz moments.
I have been listening to L‘Ètau’s Choses Clandestines for many weeks, it is an album that doesn’t let me go. However, for a long time I have had no idea how to write about it, how to live up to the music’s expectations, how to put into words what is so fascinating about this record. Recently  I thought that the music was so perfect, so immaculate, so coherent, that it actually doesn’t need any words, you just have to listen to it and feel it.

Choses Clandestines is a 4-LP-box limited to 300 copies only. The music on the first two discs was recorded in March 2013 at the Auditorium de Châtenay Malabry - studio Pierre Schaeffer. In addition to this session, a both sets of concert at Instants Chavirés are presented on the last two discs.

Listen to the quartet here:


Colin Green said...

This is a marvellous set, beautifully recorded.

Stef said...

Agree about this (and sorry, Colin, I had to remove the spam comment).


Colin Green said...

Probably for the best Stef. Kate and I are trying to keep it quiet at the moment :-)

AGM said...

Would be nice if there was some US distribution; at least, I haven't found nay yet, and shipping from The Old World is awfully expensive. Any CD version on the way?

Martin Schray said...

Definitely no CD, sorry.

Darren said...

What a lucky audience... organic, inventive, playful...