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(72:04; Cuneform Records)
A large ensemble of varying size, Ghost Rhythms is led by composers, drummer Xavier Gelard and pianist Camille Petit, and at this event the band had become a ten-piece as they were joined by Guillaume Aventurin (guitar) , Alexis Collin (accordion, sound manipulation) , Gregory Kosovski (bass), Morgan Lowenstein (percussion) , Nadia Mejri-Chapelle (cello) , Tom Namias (electric guitar) , David Rousselet (tenor sax) and Maxime Thiebaut (alto, soprano and baritone sax). Whatever it may imply with the title, this was recorded in the band’s normal rehearsal space in Paris on December 14th, 2019. Both Gelard and Petit have long had an interest in science fiction and alternate realities, particularly with author Philip K. Dick (I still love “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” although others may point to “Minority Report” or “Blade Runner”), so the album is presented as a fictional concert supposedly compiled from performances in various unlikely, non-existent or long-gone venues over different timeframes from 1834 to 2123, with the most notable being Yoshiwara, the club in Fritz Lang’s 1927 film ‘Metropolis’. Gelard and Petit both come from a rock and progressive rock background, but wanted to perform in an area which was more solidly set in jazz and fusion, so of course brought in classically trained and jazz musicians, with the understanding that they would be the sole composers. For this release they relaxed the rules, and anyone could bring in anything they wanted, and the result is an avant-garde progressive classical jazz album which appears to have no rules whatsoever. Musically this is all over the place, but there is a rigour within it which allows the musicians to twist ideas together. Of course, with ten musicians in a band it is also possible for people to have a major impact by not playing at all and letting the rest get on with it. There is a real feeling of collective here, that there is no one person attempting to be dominant. That they rehearse together weekly is quite an achievement, something not many non-fulltime bands can commit to, let alone with this many people involved. Complex, complicated, atonal, melodic, structured yet free, this is quite an album. I do smile at the end of each song when the obviously canned and over the top applause is added but it is so deliberately put there it is up to the listener to get the joke. For those who enjoy their music to be experimental yet still with control and patience then this is certainly worthy of investigation.
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