Review of Songs [12k1036]

Paris Transatlantic (FR)

Since the last outing by S├ębastien Roux that came my way, Pillow on Apestaartje, though outstandingly well recorded and beautifully produced, was just a leeeetle on the soft side, I was delighted to discover that this collection of seven pieces, recorded in and taking advantage of Parisian state-of-the-art studios including La Muse en Circuit and IRCAM, is more angular, intricate, fragmented and rewarding. The dreamy Day-Glo blue room chillout waves of bliss have been replaced by the kind of crunchy complexity even Boulez might grudgingly enjoy, though he’d probably turn up his nose at the occasional passages of gentle tonality from Roux’s source instruments (prepared piano, metallophone, guitar, cello, harp and bass). There’s a lot to get your teeth into here: each “song” is packed with myriad pristine shards and flecks of sound, exquisitely crafted and carefully sequenced and panned, but despite the complexity there’s not the slightest hint of Mego-style overload / overkill. Roux hasn’t lost his feel for harmonic coherence either: check out how “The Cello Song” circles around E flat, and how the instrumental sounds and their electronic transformations are dovetailed with the kind of clockmaker precision Stravinsky admired in Ravel. A superb piece of work – Roux’s best so far by far – definitely worth seeking out.-DW

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