Friday, 4 April 2014

Electrode - Martial Solal Joue Michel Magne (Cacophonic)

Michel Magne scores, Jean-Claude Vannier debuts as arranger, and Martial Solal runs riot on piano - a winning combination. Magne's Musique Tachiste, the Cacophonic debut last year, was a gem, and this is just as good.

Solal may be the solo star but Vannier's strings share the spotlight as they carve angular, atonal, occasionally dissonant shapes between which he flexes his fingers. Sustained upper-register violins, exotic Eastern-flavoured accents mixed with new classical modernism colour the canvas on which Solal paints his abstract action. His career as film composer was kick-started by Godard with Breathless and like that film this album is a distinctive, kaleidoscopic affair of jump-cut scoring, or New Wave orchestration.

Organique epitomises much of what's on offer, fusing cinemascopic brass in a leftfield bluesy manner until midway when it leaps into action as a trio piece augmented by soaring, swooping strings. Similarly, Clair-Obscure starts in a stately neo-classical mode before evolving into Jazz in waltz time and finally the trio let rip. Far from being a simple structure though, this masterpiece weaves much else into the score, such as brilliant solo passage by Solal and ever-shifting orchestral moods.

Air Liquide is as close to tradition as this album gets, aping a familiar Jazz structure which allows Solal more room to play, but the score remains defiantly modernist. Solal's expertise in fluent post-Bop expression constantly sparks life into the otherwise studious, artful orchestration and as such, is a perfect foil to that.

Full respect to Finders Keepers for offering this to an audience that will hopefully be open-minded enough to appreciate it. It does mean a thing even if it ain't got that old-fashioned swing.

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