Pays : Austria / Canada / France Label : Ambiances Magnétiques Genres et styles : Free Improvisation Année : 2020

Le Rnst

· par Michel Rondeau

When I sometimes feel full, saturated with melodies, chords and harmonies, to rinse my ears and regain a sort of musical virginity, I like, for a long stretch, to simply pay attention to the noises around me ,or listen to a good session of free improvisation. Preferably in concert, since sharing the “here now” with the musicians is as important a dimension as the acoustic space, but since we risk being deprived of this privilege for a while longer, we can fortunately fall back on recordings, and there are some excellent ones, like this one.

The calibre of the improvisers is important, and here we are well served: a clarinetist who has long been familiar with this kind of exercise, Frenchman Xavier Charles (The Contest of Pleasures, Dans les arbres); two of Quebec’s most active improvisers on the international scene, Ottawa-born gambist Pierre-Yves Martel, who also plays harmonica here, and Rimouski bassist Éric Normand, who also uses various objects as percussion instruments; and Austrian double bassist Matja Schellander. The place of recording is also important. In this case, it’s a Parisian house of worship whose particular resonance is conducive to this kind of exercise. 

From the very first notes, we’re immersed in the mysterious atmosphere that often distinguishes successful free improvisations, with a certain tension, a bit like in a suspense, that is maintained from beginning to end. There’s also the parsimonious slowness with which the instrumentalists, on the tightrope, unwind their narrative thread, the variety of timbres and textures, like those trills characteristic of the clarinetist with his extended vocabulary, with whirring, crackling, crackling, rubbing, tinkling, a sense of dynamics and spatial organization. Nothing is ever forced, although there are sometimes certain accents or sound bursts, or more sustained moments. And until the final resolution, there is always a balance of forces that’s maintained, just like tightrope walkers.

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