Torche! / Xavier Charles, Michel F Côté, Franz Hautzinger, Philippe Lauzier, Éric Normand
Brilliant — Free Jazz, Belgium
… captivants départs de feu, craquements toniques et belles incandescences, voilà de quoi devenir pyromane! — Revue & Corrigée, France
Torche! Sparkling sparks. The melting of metals is obtained by the heat energy released by an electric arc (improvisation?) That bursts in a protective atmosphere between a fusible electrode wire and the parts to be assembled. To create the aliage of the raw materials, it will be necessary that it warms more than the keyboard well tempered.
Torche! Sparkling soundings. What is the effect of an electric arc (improvisation?) That is erupts in an atmosphere of protection between a consumable electrode and the parts to be assembled. Making the raw materials will be more important then the Well-Tempered Keyboard.
Meeting of instrumentalists to practice as rigorous as radical. They distinguish themselves by their research of all the noise and expressive material of their respective instrument and by a total commitment in the improvisation. All attend the most varied music, electro-acutic musics, minimalist jazz or punk with the same sense of invention. Borrowing from all the music of today, they stand out by paying attention to the richness of the sounds and the depth of the atmospheres.
An exceptional free improvising quintet of Montréal & Québec improvisers — bassist Éric Normand, drummer Michel F Côté, and bass clarinetist Philippe Lauzier — with French clarinetist Xavier Charles and Austrian trumpeter Franz Hautzinger, performing live during the 2016 Festival de musique de création, creating fascinating commotion with incredible restraint.
- Composer(s): Xavier Charles, Michel F Côté, Franz Hautzinger, Philippe Lauzier, Éric Normand
- Performer(s): Torche!, Xavier Charles, Michel F Côté, Franz Hautzinger, Philippe Lauzier, Éric Normand
CD (TDB 9024)
- Label: Tour de bras
- TDB 9024
- Total duration: 43:06
- 130 mm × 135 mm × 4 mm
- 30 g
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French clarinetist Xavier Charles is a true explorer. Musically speaking, his own music and his collaborative projects range from abstract, raw noise to electro-acoustic textures, sound poetry, free improvisation and even the anarchist-punk of the Dutch The Ex (he already joined The Ex gigs for more than 120 performances, including many with the late Ethiopian sax great, Gétatchèw Mèkurya). Geographically, he seems to be all over the globe, trotting from a recording session in Québec City, Canada to Canberra, Australia and sometimes in between even enjoys the Swedish woods with his Norwegian comrades of Dans les arbres group.
This free-improvised session was recorded on May 2016 at the Café-théâtre de Jonquière, Québec City during the local Festival des Musiques de Création, at the end of a short Canadian tour that featured the five musicians playing in different formations. The quintet features three musicians from the local Tour de Bras experimental musicians collective: percussionist Michel F Côté, bass clarinet player Philippe Lauzier and electric bass player Éric Normand plus like-minded Austrian trumpeter Franz Hautzinger and Charles himself.
This meeting of these five distinct improvisers — all are committed to an uncompromising search and research of pure sounds and the timbres of their respective instruments, all in their own personal manners and with their own sense of invention — proves that the language of free-improvisation is truly universal. You just need to have an attentive ears — elephantine ears — trust your comrades and your instincts, and then all sounds — raw, dissonant, distorted, acoustic or electric, melodic, breathy or noisy — find their place in the mysterious great scheme.
The eight improvisations tell different, strange, cryptic stories, with no apparent meanings, clear narratives or comforting conclusions. But all manage to draw the listener immediately into their rich, poetic universes, despite their contemplative, sometimes even austere tones. Nothing sounds radical in these improvisations, even though these musicians do produce some pretty weird sounds. Together, as a collective, they sound much larger, somehow more sensible than apart. You can hear that in the playful Alaplasse, where imaginative bird calls collide gently with noisy, electric sounds, in the almost psychedelic texture of multiphonics on Boudboi and in the extraterrestrial, minimalist-techno pulse of Izatrape. Brilliant.
Stridences enfin (mais pas que) chez les partenaires d’une belle rencontre entre le Français Xavier Charles (clarinette), l’Autrichien Franz Hautzinger (trompette) et les Canadiens Philippe Lauzier (clarinette basse), Michel F Côté (batterie) et Eric Normand (basse électrique et caisse claire). Enregistré en concert dans le cadre du festival Musique de Création de Jonquière (Canada), les huit plages de Torche! portent bien leur nom: captivants départs de feu, craquements toniques et belles incandescences, voilà de quoi devenir pyromane!
Nowadays, our stance against the vestiges of lowercase improvisation is less rigid than before. Especially because many of its practitioners have eventually understood that the theoretical fecundity of that ground has been nullified by a large number of incompetent locusts. As a result, abundant doses of whoosh-clink-and-sputter apathy have conclusively annihilated whatever good intention there was on this side of the speakers.
Therefore it is nice to collect enlivening signals from a quintet like this, still trying to assign a degree of gravity to the manœuvres occurring in the noisier interstices of (relative) quietness. Two types of clarinet, trumpet, percussion and electric bass would be sufficient to raise serious mayhem; however — although a few rambunctious entities do materialize every once in a while over eight tracks — these musicians mostly spark off a vivacious sub-ebullience whose sympathetic consequences involve more the skull than the ears.
When there is focus to begin with, no secondary attachments are necessary: the sounds truly speak for themselves. Lonesome asymmetries are enhanced by contrapuntal spurts halfway through neo-serialism and animalist devolution. Gauzy timbres and barely intuitable silhouettes evolve smoothly into frolicsome stridency. The devitalizing lameness of a damp nihility — in earlier times mandatory to get additional coverage by currently vanished specialists — has been replaced by the willingness to affirm that the present day improviser refuses to (let the audience) die (of boredom), and — provided that conditions and partners are right — is also capable of inducing legitimate curiosity in a curmudgeon who was not expecting anything phenomenal.
A fine acoustic commentary for damaged illusions, a restrained concreteness with sporadic hints to tight-lipped irony. It may take several spins prior to realizing how efficient this music is. Sometimes it is better to furnish those vibrating molecules with a stronger propeller.
Bandleader, electric bassist and organizer Éric Normand has become a central figure in Canadian improvised music, working from his unlikely base in Rimouski, Quebec to develop a large ensemble, a local festival and regular programs of international visitors, activities that have led to international touring for his ensemble GGRIL. Torche! comes from a 2016 quintet tour in which Normand was joined by Montréal-based drummer Michel F Côté and bass clarinetist Philippe Lauzier along with two distinguished European visitors, French clarinetist Xavier Charles and German trumpeter Franz Hautzinger.
On paper that instrumentation might look like a jazz group, even a free jazz group, but the methodology is very different, with close listening the only directive, and the music’s evolution timbral and textural rather than linear. Wind instruments are sometimes played with oscillator-like evenness, even when they’re exploring complex multiphonics; the unfolding layers of sound can suggest an insect-dense forest or the compound sonic ambience of fluorescent lights, varied electronic appliances and of one’s own internal processes.
Individual instrumental voices disappear into the collective whole, so that one is less aware of personalities, more involved in the movement of sound. The music feels orchestral rather than like a collection of individual voices, collective purpose creating work that is as profoundly selfless as it is involving. It’s a highly evolved art, with the five musicians here shaping eight taut improvisations that are remarkably free of meanderings or those empty moments of merely getting acquainted.