September 16, 2018
Gigantonium GIG 002 OUR1
Set up to draw on both the Jazz-Improv and Notated-Microtonal sonic streams to create a particular sound, French violinist Clément Janinet’s quartet plus guests reach this goal with little fissure. Unfortunately the violinist, who studied with pioneering French fusion fiddler Didier Lockwood, undermines the achievements of this French-Belgium ensemble, by adding Jazz-Rock braggadocio.
Initially mixing tropes that range from Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman” to his Prime Time band concept with repetative rhythmic textures à la Philip Glass and Steve Reich, the group distinguishes itself through jittery violin lines, slurping tonal fragments from the tenor saxophone or bass clarinet of Hugues Mayot; rumbles from Manu Scarpa’ drum set and connective sweeps from cellist Mario Boisseau, guitarist Gilles Coronado and bassist Joachim Florent. Still the ProgRock touches that enter this mélange begin to come to the fore as the session progresses. On the plus side, tracks such as “Ciel” and “Ornette under the Repetitive Skies” are showpieces for mid-range theme elaborations and polyphonic compromises via doubled spiccato string movements and splayed and jagged vibrations from Mayot’s saxophone that play off against one another. In fact, pinpointed percussion pings evolving alongside bass clarinet arabesques make “Momie” sound like a piece of through-composed New Music. But subsequent foot tapping pulses and staccato string motifs underline the sophisticated writing, turning into heavier vamps and drum back beats.
Alongside slippery-sliding fiddle lines, booming tenor saxophone runs arrive and are harmonized along with electronic wiggles from the guitar to such an extent that momentum is lost. With only Florent’s bass maintaining the groove, it appears that the sometimes harmonized and sometime dissonant timbres propel a narrative that is simple but lacking color to make it memorable.
There are some provocative ideas behind this CD, this musicianship is high-quality and a few tracks stick out. But overall it’s evident that a more involved conception from Janinet is needed before H.I.S. creations become truly O.U.R.S.
Track Listing: 1. Crions (part 1)* 2. Crions (part 2)* 3. Ciel+ 4. Ornette under the Repetitives Skies 5. Cassiopée 6. Momie 7. Danse+ 8. Fy+ 4 9. Ton pied, mon pied 10. Ours* 11. Lila 12. Niana 13. Banyan Tree+
Personnel: Hugues Mayot (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet); Clément Janinet (violin); Gilles Coronado (guitar)*; Mario Boisseau (cello)+; Joachim Florent (bass [except 8,9] and Manu Scarpa (drums [except 7, 8, 9]