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(71 min, Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Dodecafeine 4:48 2. Valse a 5 Temps 4:20 3. Triton Diabolique 3:45 4. Les Lumieres de la Nuit 5:59 5. Chocolate Fields 4:42 6. Sax-cello 7:13 7. Gambang 5:58 8. Lola 4:01 9. Valse a 5 Temps Alternative 5:53 10. Appelez-moi Tex 4:36 11. Kings & Queens 5:58 12. Errance 8:47 13. You Can't Kill Me 4:32 LINEUP: Laurent Spielmann - keyboards Pierre Michel - saxophones Jean Bataillon - cello Louis Merlet - violin Didier Malherbe - saxophone
Prolusion. French group BISE DE BUSE was in existence from 1975 to 1982. The recording under review is the first CD reissue of their only album "Joue sa Musique", originally released in 1981. This edition includes all nine of the LP's original pieces plus four bonus tracks none of which (poetically speaking) saw the light of day until now.
Analysis. Instead of listing the musicians within a review, I use a special section into where I enter their names along with their respective instruments. This time around however, I find it essential to note that on most of the tracks from the album's original edition Bise De Buse appear as a trio, but not as a quintet as it's stated in the booklet, violinist Louis Merlet and Gong's saxophone player Didier Malherbe both appearing only on Dodecafeine and Triton Diabolique. It is no big deal that these two tunes are somewhat richer in sound than any of the others - most of the music on this CD is so unique, wonderful and intriguing all alike that it is only possible to register automatically the sonic saturation of each particular piece. What really surprises me is that exactly - and only - these two embrace four directions, each bringing together Classical, Neoclassical and Avant-garde academic music plus Rock, and although the latter component reveals itself only in its latent form, the structure of some of the musicians' joint movements, with the cello pizzicatos sounding almost like heavy guitar riffs, is more than merely eloquent regarding its genre roots. The opening cut, Dodecafeine, is richer in avant-garde features than Triton Diabolique, in which, though, I find nothing, say, supernatural, since already its title brings to mind the idea that the dodecaphony (another appellation of Avant-garde academic music referring to its 12-tone compositional scale) refreshes the musicians like a cup of strong coffee or tea. While listening to these, I even imagine the shades of Wagner, Stravinsky and Schoenberg standing invisibly behind the quartet and directing their actions. Les Lumieres de la Nuit, Sax-cello and Lola are the most angular compositions, each having an avant-garde feeling throughout, the latter two featuring some repetitive movements with counterpoint melodies which instantly evoke the Rock-In-Opposition style. Save a brief episode in the middle of Valse a 5 Temps Alternative, the other formerly-vinyl:-) compositions are all free of distinct avant-garde features. Contrary to what its title suggests (I think Waltz should remain Waltz even at its most unusual manifestations), the said track represents for the most part a set of jazz impromptus on a couple of fixed themes. Gambang first may seem to be the same story - throughout, but is in fact a much more cohesive, sonically harmonious tune. Some vivid jazz elements can also be found in the middle of Valse a 5 Temps, whilst Chocolate Fields stands out for its melodiousness - no wonder, as it's a rendering of Steve Miller's eponymous tune. The ever-changing, yet usually highly cohesive, intelligent, progressively meaningful interactions between either tenor or baritone saxophone, cello and acoustic piano is the essence of most of the said pieces, only a couple of those sounding as if performed by the duo of Jean Bataillon and Pierre Michel - which is because Laurent Spielmann plays synthesizers there, providing almost exclusively background patterns. Of the bonus tracks, Appelez-moi Tex, Kings & Queens, Errance and You Can't Kill Me, none features cellist Bataillon, the remaining two members (Spielmann preferring electric piano this time around) teaming up with Gerard Dosdat on electric guitar, Jean-Louis Heitz on bass and Maxime Malka on drums. Naturally, each of the four appendices has a full-band rock sound with no genuine chamber colorations. Stylistically, Appelez-moi Tex is RIO referring to the genre's Belgian school which secures a compositional completeness on the one hand, and the absence of any impromptus on the other. Most of Errance draws swing-based purely improvisational Jazz, whereas Kings & Queens and You Can't Kill Me are both intense jazz-fusion jams with a fully structured basic architecture. The textural peculiarities of the bonus tracks and their poor-quality sound as well strongly differentiate these from the first nine compositions, hence calling in question the appropriateness of their inclusion in the CD. Besides, it's only the first of these that I find to be musically on a par with those from the original LP.
Conclusion. The original "Joue sa Musique" album lasts for 47+-minutes and is a masterpiece, so the CD is worth buying in any event. Ellipsis (review here) from the USA is the only band in my memory that can serve as a more or less apt reference in this particular case, though I think those who like "313" by Univers Zero, "Musique Pour L'Odyssee" by Art Zoyd and Henry Cow's "Western Culture" should enjoy the music of Bise De Buse as well.
VM: February 25, 2007
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