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Joelle Leandre: Contrebasse /voix
Serge Teyssot - Gay: Electric guitar
Paris, 2012




November 27 2012

If you have not heard about French bands Noir Désir and Interzone, do not feel mortified: neither had I to date. Guitarist Serge Teyssot-Gay - efficient ally of now-legendary contrabassist Jöelle Léandre in this nice release - is the common denominator in those two collectives, active in the "art-rock"/experimental subdivision of the local scene. The motive behind this bizarre encounter was a concert organized to support Point Ephémère, an essential cultural business for the aforementioned activities.
The unlikely duo mostly works on the "calm" (a-hem) side of things, with few exceptions. Teyssot-Gay appears very immersed in spawning layers of looping pitches and noises of the palatable kind, though he lets us sniff something of an acid-blues proficiency here and there. Occasionally his tensest crescendos may summon up a slight Frith-ian ascendancy, if just for a handful of instants. But the nuanced choices applied and the deference shown towards the double bass diva make for a captivating listen: halos of unsolved shapes and divergent chords never sound pedestrian as they might have.


Even an instinctive creative vehemence like that of Léandre's sounds a little more controlled in this framework, in spite of what happens in the fourth track (all of them are untitled), where - besides an escalating nervousness of low frequencies and saturated tones - the unique way that Léandre deconstructs words and fakes enragement inside pseudo-operatic arias wins the prize for most compelling moment of the entire album. Elsewhere one enjoys her discriminating domination of her "big box" as the initiator of hard-hitting statements and cantabile lines that swiftly turn into an uncontrollable accumulation of upper partials and micro-sonic events that must be considered as a whole, beyond any ineffectual narrative.