Julian Julien: Terre II

Tyran Grillo By

Sign in to view read count
Julian Julien: Terre II
With Terre II, percussionist and composer Julian Julien has given us a thing of cohesive beauty. Though classically veneered, it's a jazz album at heart, mixing two parts right brain for every part left. Joining him are Siegfried Canto (flute), Michaël Havard (soprano, tenor, and baritone saxophones), Rémi Dumoulin (bass clarinet), Guillaume Billaux (guitar), Médéric Collignon (cornet, voice), Adeline Lecce (cello), and Hélène Argo (voice). Julien has chosen these musicians not only by reputation, but for their diversity. Drawing on their backgrounds in jazz, progressive rock, contemporary and classical music, he has crafted a genre-defying artifact worthy of repeated scrutiny.

Julien was inspired to create this music in collaboration with photographers from around the globe, whose work appears in the CD booklet. One might say photography serves as an apt metaphor for the music's escapist qualities, fixing moments in time even as it implies more beyond. Some of the titles, particularly the six so-called "Iris" interludes, make reference to the techniques and mechanisms of traditional (read: analog) photography. That said, what we have here is no mere incidental or illustrative apparatus, but an exhibition of fully rendered atmospheres. Julien himself cites a range of further influences, including, from music: Keith Jarrett (Changeless), Miles Davis (In a Silent Way), Mingus (Blues & Roots), Nils Petter Molvaer (Khmer), Pink Floyd (Atom Heart Mother), Soft Machine (Third), Maurice Ravel, Johann Sebastian Bach; from cinema: Stanley Kubrick, Michelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini; and from literature: José Carlos Somoza, Richard Ford, Olivier Adam, and Colum McCann.

If any of these footprints are discernible in the album's "Prélude," they are Ravel and his contemporary, Claude Debussy. Echoes of latter's Le Martyre de saint Sébastien ring palpably through the combination of percussion, electronics, and bass clarinet over a landscape best appreciated from afar. And while Julien gives props to Jarrett and Molvaer, it's Eberhard Weber, more than any other ECM label mate, who seems to foliate the branches of the album's title track.

As percussionist, Julien gives relief to "Ailleurs" (Elsewhere). Described by the composer as "an imagining of a better world without racial, social, or class problems," this exercise in peaceful idealization layers baritone saxophone and flute over blissful vibraphone currents. The voice of Hélène Argo builds a towering silo of lyrical storage in "Une attente" (Expectation), while "Mr. John Barry" pays homage to the English composer of the same name by means of a wordless, groovier diction. The album's deepest paths are reserved for the ambient lullaby of "Doudou" and "Non-Sens" (Nonsense), a nearly eight-minute track meant to evoke the suffering of immigrants that inhales and exhales breaths of digital light.

What I love about this album is how it never quite takes off, content as it is with merest indications of flight. It feels especially genuine for refusing to buy into the empyrean fantasy of lyrical music. If, as Julien himself says, "With art, we can leave behind the mundanity of daily life," then Terre II is an interplanetary jump worth taking with eyes and ears open.

Track Listing

Prélude; Terre II; Iris I; Ailleurs; Iris II; Une attente; Iris IV; Doudou; Iris V; Non- Sens; Iris VI; Mr. John Barry.


Hélène Argo: voice; Guillaume Billaux: guitar; Siegfried Canto: flute; Médéric Collignon: cornet/voice; Rémi Dumoulin: bass clarinet; Michaël Havard: soprano, tenor, baritone saxophone; Julian Julien: percussion, programming; Adeline Lecce: cello.

Album information

Title: Terre II | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Self Produced

Post a comment about this album


Shop Amazon


Mono No Aware
Roberto Pianca Sub Rosa
Live at NIR Studios
Georg Graewe, Kjell Nordeson, Jon Raskin Trio
Dr. Lonnie Smith
Beau Bow de Lune
Val McCallum
Jesup Wagon
James Brandon Lewis
Songs For Tracy
Frank Macchia


All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.