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Thierry Gomar: Between Two Worlds: Opus II

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

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Between Two Worlds : Opus II features vibraphonist Thierry Gomar in a solo performance, alternating between two three-octave vibraphones: one acoustic and the other electro-acoustic. By means of discrete electronic treatment of the recording on the one hand, and a particularly rich synthesis of musical influences—contemplative music somewhere at the juncture between jazz and contemporary composition—on the other, Gomar and his laptop-toting partner, José Barrachina, skillfully keep things from sounding monochromatic.

On the aural evidence, Barrachina's computer interventions are post- performance tweaks and additions, not Jan Bang-style live remix. Thus, this is apparently not a duet performance. But Barrachina's contributions are important to broadening the sound palette and making the disc sound like an album and not a recital. Barrachina distorts the vibraphone recording to provide ambient hums in the background, or distortion of the main melodic line in the foreground. There's a sense in which the distortion of the putatively pure vibraphone sound increases over the course of the disc. "Internal Darkness" is built around metallic- sounding shards of sound, suggesting a jagged natural process like a storm or tides; the closing "De l'autre côté du monde" is not recognizable as vibraphone at all, but makes for a satisfying coda.

More important than the electronics is the variety of musical influences that feed this performance, and the fluency with which Gomar fuses those varied inputs. The vibraphonist has worked in jazz, contemporary composition, classical and Persian musical settings, among others, and each is subtly recognizable in these Gomar compositions. Is the lovely "White Silence" a nod to the title track of Crystal Silence (ECM, 1973), vibraphonist Gary Burton's celebrated duet with Chick Corea? The delightful composition and performance suggests that such a comparison is merited and might be welcome, though no one would mistake Gomar for Burton—or Lionel Hampton, Milt Jackson, or Bobby Hutcherson, among the great jazz vibesmen. Is "Song for Hildegard" a tribute to early classical composer Hildegard von Bingen? Again, it could be, or it could be that Gomar has a friend named Hildegard. What is clear is the rigor and coherence of these performances.

The numbers on this record tend to be short, which also contributes to the impression of variety. "Palimpseste," atypically, clocks in at over six minutes, and suggests that Gomar has no shortage of musical ideas over a longer stretch of time. An audacious bet, this solo record, and one that pays off amply.

Track Listing: Matin du monde; Awakening; White Silence; New Times; Danse des Astres; Noves Imatges; Le Vol du papillon; Le Sourire de l'ange; Le Miroir magique; Vision I; Vision II; La Cathédrale engloutie; Palimpseste; Song for Hildegard; Moon Dreams; Internal Darkness; De l'autre côté du monde.

Personnel: Thierry Gomar: vibraphone; José Barrachina: laptop.

Title: Between Two Worlds: Opus II | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Tròba Vox

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