In a departure from Ambiances Magnetiques’ noise-heavy catalog, this jazz quartet weaves heavy doses of melody and form into their arrangements. Admittedly, the group leaps nimbly from one genre to the next with the dizzying speed of a caffeinated monkey, but they never lose sight of the music’s underpinnings. Although everything on Veuillez procéder is filtered through a contemporary jazz mindset, the individual pieces’ flavor varies widely, both within and across compositions.
Pour Hortense begins quietly, with a caressing piano. As violin subtly weaves itself into the melody, the tempo begins to pick up. As the track hits a solid Latin rhythm, the piano alternates runs with wood block breakdowns. Finally, the piece abruptly shifts into a melodramatic conclusion that packs a Yanni-esque grandeur (I like Yanni, so that’s intended as a compliment). If this seems like a lot for one quartet to take on, consider the surrounding tracks: Teuteuta, a prog-rock workout with enough odd rhythmic patterns to satisfy any King Crimson fan, and Bond précisionnel, an ominous, back-alley noise piece. Rouge Ciel’s stylistic chameleon act is reinforced by the members’ instrumental acrobatics — they utilize various percussion, keyboard, string, wind and electronic instruments to create their dizzying statements.
Like much contemporary jazz, the results are a bit overwhelming, particularly on the eleven-minute Nevrealite postparapsychophysiologique. Even so, the trio plays with an openness that keeps the music from becoming overbearing — in part by balancing denser pieces with cuts like the breathy Bois mou, which combines smooth strings with comparably flowing horn work. This is a crucial element of the music’s success; these challenging compositions could easily make it seem as if the band is lecturing to its audience, but by providing plenty of melodic signposts and lots of breathing room, the group transform the listening experience into a dialogue. The album’s combination of restraint and highly impressive musicanship suggests that Rouge Ciel have some very promising days ahead of them.