Fr: Exaltatio Utriusque Mundi (2003)
The Exultation Of Two Worlds is actually a misnomer. Both musicians, percussionist Lê Quan Ninh and pianist Frédéric Blondy, inhabit the same territory of creative free improvisation. Their manner of producing sound is even similar.
Frédéric Blondy a participant in the new French improvisation scene is a member of the bands Ethos (with Xavier Charles and David Chiesa) and Hubbub, which recently released Hoop Whoop on Matchless. His sound tends toward percussive playing with a mixture of melody for context.
Percussionist Lê Quan Ninh, a twenty-year veteran of the improvisation scene, has played in combination with a who’s-who of creative players. His recordings have included solo percussive works with Quatuor Hêlios and as a member of Butch Morris’ Conduction Ensembles. He has a penchant for utilizing a minimal drumkit and odd/innovative instrumentation.
The disc opens with the title track and Blondy’s cascading piano notes over the dancing percussive playing on the sides of Ninh’s drumkit. At least it sounds like the sides. I can't be sure, because he tends toward new sounds generated on varying musical and nonmusical utensils. The music sluices like a flowing stream with trickles of energy and bubbling nuance.
Ninh’s cymbal raking/bowing opens “La Verticale Reposée” sounding like a Jimi Hendrix electric solo in flight. His extended technique, beautifully recorded, gives off a three dimensional feel throughout. Like a guitar solo, it is absorbed by your chest. Elsewhere Ninh’s playing sounds like a jet taking off and a horn section!
The pair interact throughout, alternating between playing on, around, and with their instruments. Blondy is not shy when it comes to opening the piano to expand the possiblities of its insides. I certainly cannot tell you where all the sounds come from, but they are all visceral expressions.
These worlds, anything but mutally exclusive, come together nicely for a complete statement.
Track Listing: Exaltatio Utriusque Mundi; La Verticale Repos