Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Jacques Berrocal / Dominique Coster / Roger Ferlet - 'Musiq Musik' (Fractal)

This short album - I've always been fond of the term mini-LP - was originally recorded for the legendary Futura label in 1973 and appears in glistening CD quality courtesy of Fractal records. I believe this is Jacques Berrocal's recorded debut. It's his name that appears beneath the track listing so I've always treated him as the leader and I've filed this accordingly. But the trio is, on the surface, a trumpet/trombone/cornet jazz trio, let loose in a studio with the intent of deconstructing music forever. Over these four tracks, these three explore a great number of wind instruments and percussion, dabble in electronics, and occasionally wither away into the aether. This is significantly less surreal than Paralleles but still wildly inventive and exploratory. I actually like this one on CD because the way the silent parts are magnified in digital stillness ; maybe I'm just making excuses because I can't shell out 300€ for the original LP! Musiq Musik has some memorable passages on each track - 'Pièces à lanam' has some killer bagpipes, and the 'Leïla Concerto' has actual trumpet-driven classical passages that sound like Mahler's worst nightmare. But overall this works as a cohesive whole (if brief). It's hard to call this jazz but it's not a million miles away from Don Garrett and Kali Fausteau's Sea Ensemble, though not quite as connected to the human spirit. Vocalising is kept to a minimum though the artists occasionally shout 'Musiq!', sometimes under tape manipulations, andit's charming. Track three, 'Anonymous', has some rumbling synth (or maybe it's a harmonium, since that's what's listed in the credits) with some wordless singing; it crawls and pauses repeatedly, cresting with some shards of air. 'Cryptea' closes the disc with 11 minutes of pulling and yelping, getting into the most dissonant territory we've yet heard. It's dreamlike and dystopian at the same time; it recalls the side-long jam on Paralleles but with a somewhat simpler palette. At times it returns to a harmonium pulse while Ferlet (I guess) plays some exultant trumpet parts. There are a lot of notes here, but they feel carefully chosen as opposed to some free jazz logorrhoea. I hold Berrocal in extremely high regard, at least due to the trilogy of this, Paralleles and Catalogue, and listening again today (while trying to describe it, y'know, in words), my mind still trembles at what a work of genius this is.

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