Posts Tagged ‘Musea Records’


1. Supernova (8:28)
2. Rêves Prémonitoires (6:46)
3. D’Hêtre À Être (9:47)
4. Singes (8:31)
5. Le Bas Art de l’Épouvante (8:11)
6. Berceuse Moderne (7:06)
7. Renaissances (9:51)

Mathieu Torres – guitar
Tadzio Gottberg – drums
Stéphanie Artaud – piano

Maxime Jaslier – saxophone (2), bass guitar (6)

With a name taken from theoretical physics,  which in English translates as “string theory” (particularly suited to a musical venture), French band La Théorie des Cordes started out as a trio in 2010. Their debut album, Premières Vibrations, released in 2011 on Musea Records, was recorded with a fourth musician, Maxime Jaslier, guesting on two tracks. In the summer of 2012, the band’s core members – guitarist Mathieu Torres and pianist Stéphanie Artaud – were joined by drummer Ophélie Luminati (who replaced original member Tadzio Gottberg), reedist/percussionist Julien Langlois and bassist George Storey, so that the trio has now become a quintet. In the meantime, La Théorie des Cordes have started recording their second album, titled Singes Electriques, and have also been busy on the live front. Their schedule for 2013 includes a slot at the prestigious Crescendo festival in the month of August.

La Théorie des Cordes call themselves “a creative family”, and theirs is a multifaceted concept, involving the use of elaborate stage costumes, the realization of videoclips, and  a lavishly illustrated CD booklet in which a set of  high-sounding “lyrics” explains each of the completely instrumental tracks. Indeed, Premières Vibrations comes across as a very ambitious project. In spite of their obvious youth, the band members are extremely accomplished, and their music – an elegant, deeply melodic form of jazz-rock with an appealingly warm Latin tinge, and occasional forays into edgier territory – relies on a rather idiosyncratic configuration that rules out the bass guitar (here only present in one out of seven tracks), and hinges on the scintillating interplay of Stéphanie Artaud’s piano and Mathieu Torres’ guitar.

Clocking in at around 58 minutes, and featuring 7 tracks with an average running time of 8 minutes, Premières Vibrations is not excessively long for today’s standards, and does not outstay its welcome. On the other hand, while the music is overall very pleasing to the ear, with a smooth, natural flow, it sometimes gives the same impression as those stories whose author likes to use a lot of words to express a relatively straightforward concept. The tracks all share a similar structure, alternating slower and faster sections in which guitar and piano take turns into the spotlight, with drums providing a dynamic and often inventive rhythmic accompaniment  – sometimes resulting in a loose, almost rambling feel.

Opener “Supernova” aptly exemplifies the album’s general direction, introducing the instruments almost tentatively, and then gradually building up, with Mathieu Torres’ brilliant guitar neatly meshing with fluid piano. The Latin-flavoured “Rêves Premonitoires” is enhanced by the presence of Maxime Jaslier’s saxophone, which duets with the two main instruments adding depth of expression to the sound. At almost 10 minutes, the sedate, vaguely somber “D’Hêtre À Être”, is perhaps a tad overlong and somewhat monotonous, though picking up towards the end; while “Singes”, enhanced by electric piano and echoing effects that oddly reminded me of Pink Floyd, blends a haunting atmosphere with some harder-edged moments.

“Le Bas Art de l’Épouvante” marks a sharp change of mood, with its almost cinematic sweep and dramatic tempo shifts, pauses of respite followed by piercing guitar and cascading piano. As its title (“modern lullaby”) implies, the jazzy “Berceuse Moderne” is stately and soothing, with discreet drumming and bass adding some bottom end to the airy exertions of the guitar and piano. Finally, “Renaissance” pushes the heavier elements to the fore – especially those guitar riffs that had been lurking in the background in some of the previous tracks – evoking comparisons with King Crimson circa Thrak and The Power to Believe.

In spite of the misgivings previously expressed on some aspects of the composition, Premières Vibrations contains some fine music that is likely to please fans of classic jazz-rock, especially those who prize melody as well as technical skill. Thankfully the album is devoid of that deplorable tendency to show off that sometimes mars other releases in the same vein, though La Théorie des Cordes should keep a tighter rein on the compositional aspect. In any case, the album is a rewarding listen, and a promising debut from a group of excellent musicians.




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1. Horse Heart (6:06)
2. Taurokathapsia (4:52)
3. Cream Sky (6:23)
4. Spiraling (12:48)
5. Roots Growth (5:47)
6. See You in Me (7:50)
7. Ritual of Apollo & Dionysus (4:00)
8. Northern Lights (5:49)

Stelios Romaliadis – flute

Lisa Isaksson – vocals, balalaika, harp, flute (1)
David Svedmyr – mellotron, zither, bells (1)
Jennie Ståbis –  vocals (1)
Fotini Kallianou – cello (1, 2, 5, 7)
Katerina Papachristou – double bass (1, 2, 7)
Fotis Siotas – viola, violin (2, 5)
Lefteris Moumtzis – vocals, acoustic guitar (3)
Alex Bolpasis – acoustic guitar (3)
Pavlos Michaelides – violin (3)
Andria Degens – vocals (4, 6)
Giorgos Varoutas – electric guitar (4)
David Jackson – saxophones (5)
Elsa Kundig – cello (5)
Nikos Fokas – Fender Rhodes piano (5)
Nikos Papanagiotou – drums (5)
Greg Haines – cello (6)
Georgia Smerou – bassoon (7)
Georgia Konstadopoulou  – cor anglais, oboe (7)

The distinctively-named Lüüp (an idiosyncratic spelling of the word “loop”) is a project by flutist and composer Stelios Romaliadis, a young but very gifted artist based in Athens (Greece). Lüüp’s recording debut, Distress Signal Code (released in October 2008 on Musea Records) saw the participation of legendary ex-VDGG saxophonist David Jackson. The project’s second release, Meadow Rituals, was released in May 2011 on independent label Experimedia, but only recently came to my attention – thanks to the networking opportunities offered by the social media scene.

Unlike Distress Signal Code – which had been recorded with the input of a restricted number of musicians – Meadow Rituals involves a large cast of artists from different European countries who supply a varied, largely acoustic instrumentation ranging from strings to guitars. Some of the guest musicians, such as David Jackson, vocalist Lisa Isaksson (of Swedish outfit Lisa o Piu) and pianist Nikos Fokas, also performed on Lüüp’s debut. The album was recorded in Greece, Germany, Sweden and the UK – the home countries of the musicians involved.

While certainly progressive, both in spirit and in actual execution, Meadow Rituals is not a rock album, and traditional rock instruments only make occasional appearances. Vocals – whenever present – seamlessly blend with the other instruments so as to enhance the delicate, almost brittle nature of each piece. Though Romaliadis’s flute, as can be expected, is at the core of Lüüp’s music, each instrument contributes to the development of the compositions in its own individual way.

In opening track “Horse Heart”, vocals take centre stage: Lisa Isaksson’s pure, ethereal voice – supported by backing vocalist Jennie Ståbis and a heady mélange of mellotron, zither, balalaika and harp – tempers the dark, melancholy feel of the piece, and the deep-toned twang of Katerina Papachristou’s double bass evokes memories of Pentangle – though in a more experimental vein. Intriguing world music suggestions emerge in the riveting “Cream Sky”, where flute, acoustic guitar and violin find a perfect foil in Lefteris Moumtzis’ soothing baritone – reminiscent of Dead Can Dance’s Brendan Perry. The album’s centerpiece, however, lies in the 12-minute “Spiraling”, masterfully built around the subdued yet deeply haunting voice of Andria Degens (of British act Pantaleimon), with its timeless Celtic tinge complemented by sparse guitar, violin and flute, which  mesh with the vocal line to create a magical atmosphere. Degens’ voice returns in the nearly 8-minute “See You in Me”, accompanied by Romaliadis’ flute and British composer Greg Haines’ cello in an almost avant-garde workout of austere beauty.

The remaining four tracks are all instrumental. In the solemn “Taurokathapsia” (a Greek word for the ancient Cretan ritual of bull-leaping, depicted in Minoan frescoes), the interplay of deep, resonating cello and double bass and delicate describes the scene in sonic terms, with violin injecting a stately, classical feel. Another strongly descriptive number, “Ritual of Apollo & Dionysus” conveys the dialogue between the two gods through the alternation of flute and oboe on one hand, and cor anglais and bassoon on the other; while in closer “Northern Lights” Romaliadis’ flute evokes the titular phenomenon with trills and leaps, followed by pauses of quiet. On the other hand, “Roots Growth” is the closest the album gets to a more conventional rock sound, and the only track that features drums, as well as electric piano – though there is nothing conventional about it. A folk-tinged number, with a lilting, dance-like movement, it revolves around the contrast between Romaliadis’ pastoral flute and David Jackson’s more assertive saxophone.

Clocking in at almost 54 minutes, Meadow Rituals is a well-balanced, carefully structured effort that, as hinted in the previous paragraphs, is focused on atmosphere rather than energy. While those who need the adrenalin rush provided by guitar solos or banks of keyboards will probably find it disappointing or just plain uninspiring, fans of world music, New Age, ambient and the whole ECM catalogue – as well as classical and chamber music, especially of the 20th-century variety (Debussy comes to mind) – will find a lot to appreciate. Highly recommended to those who have been intrigued by some of the music that I have reviewed in recent times (such as Janel & Anthony, Ergo and Knitting By Twilight/John Orsi), Meadow Rituals is beautiful aural and visual experience, whose stunning photography and haunting musical content will engage your mind and soothe your soul.



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