A surprising cd from a new trio. The name of Antoine Berthiaume may ring a bell, as I reviewed his debut on Ambiances Magnétiques for Vital Weekly some time ago. On this album guitarist Berthiaume played guitar duets with Fred Frith and Derek Bailey. Not bads for a debute! On his new album we do not find him sided by veterans but accompanied by two other young musicians. This should guarantee a fresh approach and it does. Quentin Sirjacq is a pianist and composer from Paris. He studied in Holland and more recently at Mills College. It’s here that he and Berthiaume met during an improvisation class led by Joëlle Léandre. In the collaboration that grew Norman Teale (mixing, engineering, electronics) later joined in. And so this unusual trio of guitar, piano and electronics was a fact.
Their music is of a typical kind of modern music. Their music keeps lots of memories of a wide diversity of influences: jazz, rock, free improvisation, noise, ambient, touches of eastern music, etc. But the result is nothing of it all, but a very open improvisation based music. Atmosphere and mood are important in their soundscaping exercises. Sometimes their music is almost sounding like filmmusic echoing Morricone (Staring at a western time) or Ry Cooder. This means that they do not intend to discomfort the listener. Although their music is of course of a experimental kind, it is on the easy listening section of the spectrum.
A track like Freedom fried surprised me, as it was new for me to hear improvised music sounding so ‘romantic’ as it does here. A track like 40 Pills shows their good taste for coloring. It sounds like some gamelan music played on toy instruments.
In most pieces the guitar of Berthiaume is in a prominent role. Tracks like Leaves and snows and Nuclear Times are built around the piano playing of Sirjacq. The electronic treatments by Teale a harder to identify on the one hand, but that they are omnipresent is not to be missed. Quietly and slowly the three unfold their ideas in their poetic approach of improvised music. A nice one.