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Chat Noir: Nine Thoughts For One Word

John Ephland By

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There's something about RareNoise Records that keeps you on your toes. Listen to any title side by side, and you're likely to end up scratching your head, if not enjoying a gentle smile or subtle rhapsody. Okay, some of the music can be scabrous, perhaps unlistenable. But guess what? It all fits under the RN moniker, somehow, someway.

Take the Italian trio Chat Noir's Nine Thoughts For One Word. It exhales on a theme of Harold Budd, himself a RN recording artist. There is an obvious ambient quality to Chat Noir's vibe. That's what they share in common with Budd, a collaborator with Brian Eno. In the case of Chat Noir, there is more instrumentation, perhaps a more overt cinematic presence; but the vibe remains one of stillness, quietude, no rush, no fuss. It's more about dreaming than getting from point A to point B.

But instead of being relaxation music for a stressed culture, Nine Thoughts is eight "tunes" that alternate between a kind of gently rolling thunder, rocking like the opener "Eternally Tranquil Light," and mostly linger in a soft-focus climate like "Fundamental Mind," where the pulse is steady if more implied and the keyboards and electronics weave their various ways through the terrain like cool breezes across a desert plain. There is improvisation, but it's more akin to silent imagining than anything chops-oriented. It takes great patience to make this kind of music, music that demands stillness and open minds, and space where anything can happen, and usually does, but on more subtle, subdued levels.

Indeed, Nine Thoughts For One Word is dream music, an exemplar of what is possible between the worlds of heartfelt noise and placid elevator music. A trio of keyboardist Michele Cavallari, bassist Luca Fogagnolo and keyboardist/guitarist/all-round beats guy J. Peter Schwalm, the music also includes appearances from guitarist Daniel Caivi, and on the sultry, crawling "Momentary Continental" vocalist Alessandro Tomaselli (who also provides the lyrics). "Blinking Neon" keeps the fires burning with a growling rock cadence, again reminiscent of something maybe heard on late-night radio back in 1969, when genres weren't capsulized, the space-music vibe undergirded by a slightly ominous tethering of ambience with some kind of country-music charm.

You get the idea. There is something under every rock here, keeping you guessing. The artistry is obvious, the musicians all so patient with their instruments and with each other. And, in the case of Nine Thoughts, the music keeps getting more personal, mysterious and musical as the disc spins, rewarding sustained, slightly uneasy listening.

Track Listing: Eternally Tranquil Light; Fundamental Mind; Momentary Continual; Blinking Neon; Detuning Leaves; Uneven; Soft Ground; Crystallized Flow.

Personnel: Michele Cavallari, piano, keyboards, fx; Luca Fogagnolo, electric bass, upright bass, trombone; J. Peter Schwalm, electronics, beats, keyboards, acoustic guitar; Daniel Calvi, electric guitars, acoustic guitars, lap steel guitar (3, 4, 7); Alessandro Tomaselli, voice, lyrics (3).

Title: Nine Thoughts For One Word | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: RareNoiseRecords

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