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Friday, February 5, 2021

Èch – Èch (Un Rêve Nu, 2020) ****

By Nick Ostrum

Heddy Boubaker has an interesting history in music. Originally, he was a sax demon, exploring both the lowercase deconstructivist and Borbetomagusian (yep, that is now a word) extremes until he suddenly stopped playing due to illness, if I remember correctly. After several years exploring the modular synth and bass, he moved back to the first instrument that caught his attention as a teenager, the electric guitar. Boubaker first came to my ears a decade ago through sotto voce releases on Insubordinations, Creative Sources, and an all-too short-lived netlabel Con-V. Then, I discovered his Rosa Luxemburg Quartet (Insub, Not Two) and wall of noise Zed Trio (Ayler) and I was convinced. Then, however, he seemed to disappear.

Èch is Heddy Boubaker on electric guitar, Julien Gineste on alto sax and electric organ, Erwan Lamer on percussion and bass clarinet, Andy Lévêque on alto sax, and Walkind Rodriguez on trumpet, percussion and voice. For those of you familiar with Boubaker, this release leans much further toward the melodicism of Rosa Luxembourg and clunky abstractions of Zed than the near-silence of much of his solo work. All tracks are composed by Boubaker.

The first track, Mange Tout, is straight-up fire music minus the melody with which the Nordic and American practitioners tend to imbue it. This, of course, does not mean this is just harsh noise. Tracks such as L'Entaille Du Rasoir d'Hanlon are demented marches. Fidèle A Vos Illusions is based on a dark and glitchy, Afro-Caribbean inspired beat and consists of one long, pulsing crescendo. Missing D, which begins a simple guitar riff soon met with explosive percussive and horn blasts seems more inspired by post-punk (Lamer’s steady bass drum pulse and Boubaker’s staticky guitar oscillations) and aggressive avant-rock (Gineste, Rodriguez, and Lévêque’s torqueing fanfares). Un Autre Hôte is a slow, meditative guitar-based piece reminiscent of David Grubbs at his more laggard moments. Martine A La Plage (a play on the far-right nationalist Marine la Pene) starts as a playful blend of Balkan-esque dance music scrambled with playful electronic and heavier doom-jazz elements for the first half. Then, it turns minimalist ritualistic Krautrock drone. (What had seemed a fringe joke just a decade ago, it seems, has lost its levity.) Lama Fâché returns to simple, repeated plodding guitar riffs punctuated by horns and, halfway through, galloping drums and shouts. As with Fidèle A Vos, this piece seems one long crescendo, or acceleration from collectedness into a manic outburst of energy. The final piece, Nous Ne Sommes Plus Des Poussières D'Étoiles, begins in a similar fashion, but develops into a glistening, dreamy soundscape rather than an ebullient release. A fine way to end an exciting and thoroughly compelling album. Clearly, abandoning the saxophone was not the end for Boubaker.

This album has been released in digital format and as a limited release CD.


heddy said...

thanks a lot Nick for this great review

For your information between my last sax publication in 2013 and this latest CD release I didn't really disappeared :)
You can check for ex:
a not uptodate list here

hope you can find some interesting stuff of mine to listent to if you wish
anyway thanks a lot again for this great review and maybe some others to come ;-)

Nick Ostrum said...

Thanks for the correction, Heddy. You're right, obviously. I should have qualified the statement with "he seemed to disappear, at least from the labels I was following at the time." Or, something like that. Either way, stumbling upon Èch was a nice surprise, as I had wondered what would come after the saxophone years. And, the album did not let down.


The moment you read "Borbetomagusian" and get hooked with both the music and the review...

ipsofatso said...

You've done it again. This is exactly why i keep coming back to this site. Another one that had passed me by.

The kind of joy enducing noise that really floats my boat - superb!