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La Pieuvre and Circum Grand Orchestra: Feldspath (2013)

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La Pieuvre and Circum Grand Orchestra: Feldspath is a French project, documented on a double album, that brings together two already large ensembles—the conducted improvisation ensemble La Pieuvre and Circum Grand Orchestra and the contemporary jazz ensemble La Pieuvre and Circum Grand Orchestra—32 musicians and all, conducted by composer Oliver Benoit. But this unique and rare project is not only about creating massive orchestral sounds. It is a bold attempt to keep the distinct sonic particularities and aesthetics of each ensemble and its improvisers and to challenge both entities to form one musical unity. Feldspath is a musical spectacle that blends and collides spoken word, poetry, dadaist humor, weird sound sources, tribal and intense energy, free jazz, art rock, free improvisation with brilliant and refined performances.

The first composition, "Sandine," begins with a busy, a bit amused, philosophical talk in French about philosophy, that triggers wild sonic searches from the musicians, just as the talk focuses on the issues of structuralism and deconstructionism. At that moment this gigantic ensemble erupts into a volcanic chaos. When the sonic mayhem subsides a new course is explored. The tension is structured through thunderous rhythmic arrangements that make full usage of the extended, massive rhythm section of three drummers, three electric bass players, two double bass and four guitarists to create a futuristic tribal sense of ritual. These massive, tight segments are spiced and integrated and later disintegrate with brief, poetic and often fiery segments of the horn and brass section, dadaist vocalizations, adventurous sonic clusters that draw sources from radio stations and samples and game-like sonic inventions. This amalgam of written parts, intense and powerful improvisations, strong sense of unity and of eccentric articulations redefines the distinct characteristics of the two ensembles. Both ensembles sound as a wild, galloping body, hard to navigate, but one that sparkles with boundless energy and a rare personality.

"Andesine/Bytownite" begins with a recitation of poetic text by Martin Hackett, with poetic devices and a phrasing close to the collaborations of American poet Robert Creely with musicians. The poetic ambiance is staged with a dramatic, theatrical and energetic big band arrangement. This composition gravitates into dense walls of sounds led by the fiery, extended rhythm section that use repeated, cyclical themes. As on the previous composition, these walls of sounds are expanded with nuanced arrangements of the horn and brass instruments, often a spare and poetic arrangement, injections of noises and samples and a friendly vocal chatter of all the musicians.

The second part of this composition continues the theoretical vein, arranging a cinematic, evocative narrative with a narrator, chamber jazz segments industrial sounds, inventive and playful vocalizations and an impressive exploration of the story by drummer Jean-Luc Landsweerdt, This narrative also climaxes with another full-blown, bombastic wall of sound but for a brief moment and the final coda before returning to a more balanced and reserved theatrical setting.

Provocative, engaging and highly inventive, and obviously, conducted and performed brilliantly.


Track Listing: CD 1: Sandine. CD 2: Andesine/Bytownite.

Personnel: Olivier Benoit: composition, conduction; Sakina Abdou: saxophone; Vincent Debaets: saxophone; Julien Favreuille: saxophone; Jean-Baptiste Ferez: saxophone; Jean-Baptiste Rubin: saxophone; Yanik Misorec: clarinet; Christopher rocher: clarinet; Nathalie Goutailler: trumpet; Christopher Motury: trumpet; Christian Pruvost: trumpet; Samuel Carpentier: trombone; Claude Colpaert: trombone; Maxine Morel: tuba; Martin Hackett: melodica, flute, voice; Lune Grazilly: voice; Patrick Guionnet: voice; David Bausseron: guitar; Sébastien Beaumont: guitar; Ivann Cruz: guitar; Philippe Lenglet: guitar; Stefan Orins; piano; Barbara Dang: piano; Martin Granger: keyboard; Pierre Cretel: double bass; Nicolas Mahieux: double bass; Christophe Hache: electric bass; Stéphane Lévêque: electric bass; Antoine Rousseau: electric bass; Nicolas Chachignot: drums; Jean-Luc Landsweerdt: drums; Peter Orins: drums.

Record Label: Circum-disc


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