There are characteristic archetypal melodies with which we fell immediately familiar. "Apres un Reve," written by French composer Gabriel Fauré in the 1870s, is such a tune. These types of melodies can often be repeated without loss of attraction or tension and release dynamics.
In this live recorded performance, French multi-instrumentalist Eve Risser exploits the inherent potential of Fauré's theme in a puzzling yet fabulous way. While just hinting at it, repetitively retarding it, while tattering it and overwhelming it through intruding heterogeneous sound sources, the theme rises again and again in varied shapes. While all is driven by mechanically ticking sounds, it is discontinuously fanning out as in a sprawling, luxuriating dream. The layers and different 'voices' thereby created by Risser interlock in a unorthodox orchestral way and gradually thicken into a deep groove. Zooming in and out, Risser uses hoketus-like and minimalistic procedures in odd ways. What pianist Christian Wallumnrød did with solid melody fragments in a six-piece ensemble, Risser is doing here in her very own lively way, solo, with the prepared 'machinery' of an upright piano (piano droit prépare à effets mécanique). The preparations employed go far more than the usual muting or distorting the string sound. A greater variety of sophisticated percussive mechanisms and effects are added here.
Fauré's song, with its praise of the mysticism (and deceptions) in experiencing nocturnal transitions, is here transformed into its processual version: the music becomes the nocturnal transitions itself, that now take place analogously IN the music. Risser executes and stages this convincingly with great ingenuity. No electronics are used here. She employs mechanical preparations on an upright piano instead and fully exhausts the potentials of it in a piece that wondrously clocks exactly 24:24. It is stunning in its fluent complexity and its loose, jerky, exact non-exactness, thereby creating a relentless attention to the piece's flow. It might be associated in the second half with certain sides of techno, but it is apparently not done for the reason to emulate that acoustically. The 24:24 duration is an apt dosing to pose melody and pulse for lingering in listener's body and mind. Here is a video registration on ARTE TV of "Après un Rêve" from renowned Berlin Jazzfest 2019, one of the few festivals that presented this amazing work. For a radio version: (listen here).
Risser is one of the most agile and creative forces of the younger French generation, operating on a broad scale of activities ranging from duos with drummer Yuko Oshima (Donkey Monkey), phenomenal saxophonist Antonin-Tri Hoang (Grand Bazar), pianist Kaja Draksler (To Pianos), the free improvising trio En Corps with bassist Benjamin Duboc and drummer Edward Perraud, and leading a diverse array of larger ensembles, notably the White, Yellow and Red Desert Orchestra with sophisticated composed and arranged music. She is an artist of high and fast imaginative and expressive vigor, and an artist possessed of a strong urge to conquer and (re)invent sources, shapes, forms, and dynamics, turning things inside out and elaborating uncommon perspectives in an engaging and convincing way. Color and finesse, surprise and humor, a good portion of dada, extension and disciplined focusing are virtues of her musicianship. Her cover drawing of the album underlines that. Risser's "After a Dream" is a masterly and delightful piece.
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