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Review

Eyal Hareuveni, Free Jazz, 18 juin 2018

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.

Brilliant

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