Drummer, composer Guigou Chenevier is best known for his work within the musical movement R.I.O (Rock In Opposition) with the legendary French ensemble Etron Fou Leloubian. Currently, he is a member of the critically acclaimed Trio, “Volapuk”. Besides stints with guitarist/composer Fred Frith, Chenevier has been involved in an array of ambitious projects, which generally take progressive rock to various extremes. Here, with his 4th solo release “Rumeurs de la Ville” (Rumors of the City) we find Chenevier utilizing the efforts of his current band and other proficient musicians; however, the real kick is that Chenevier utilized self-taught or student musicians performing in makeshift fashion. Chenevier recorded these eight amateur musicians on tape. Chenevier took these tapes and melded them into various pieces and/or entire compositions. The overall effect is quite interesting as Chenevier captures a “cabaret” type atmosphere while integrating this conceptual approach! throughout the entire project.
The compositions at times have a Euro-Classical feel while drawing similarities to the old Canterbury Scene, namely the famed art-rock band Henry Cow as in track two “Petit Piano”. On this cut, motifs vary yet the thematic development moves forward. “El Zorro” commences with an obviously unpolished trombone solo by amateur Olivier Cadart. Chenevier provides sympathetic rhythmic accompaniment on the drums while the professional ensemble gradually converge as if the musicians were taking their cues from the drummer. Here, Guillaume Saurel’s Cello maneuvers bounce off the rhythm section providing contrast and balance. The punctual Saxophones of Laurent Bigot and Michel Mandel’s team up to provide texture while Laurent Luci’s subtle funk guitar chords build tension; hence, strong compositional development ensues which emits an air of elegance and joyous celebration. At times, somber yet emphasized by complex horn and string arrangements, elements of Rock coalesce into compos! itionally austere lyricism. Certain passages throughout this recording bring to mind “Gypsies” dancing in the back streets of Paris or Middle Eastern Tribunals as in the song titled “Salman Rushdie”. On “Guerre” a driving rock beat transforms the proceeding into a wild free jazz, improv fest. No one dominates; each musician plays a vital role within the scope of these pieces.
Guigou Chenevier takes us on a conceptual tour of his City while providing vivid imagery through song. This one works. “Rumors of the City” is an aggressive and polytonal melting pot of animated compositions that bespeak an engaging story. Overall, a most satisfying listening experience. Highly Recommended.
Guigou Chenevier; Drums: Laurent Bigot; Saxes, Samplers, Sound Materials: Olivier Gaudino; Bass: Fred Guiliani; Keyboards: Laurent Luci: Guitar: Michel Mandel: Bass Clarinet, Clarinet, Tenor and Soprano Saxes: Guillaume Saurel; Cello:
Amateur Musicians: Olivier Cadart; Trombone: Bruno Fache; Guitar, Violin: Roland Delrue; Accordian: Eliane Charasse; Voice: Louis Vincent; Trumpet: Bernard Tieberghen; Guitar: Maurice Millet; Keyboards: Julie Mayen; Violin.