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(51:13, Altrock Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Infinicheese 1:30 2. Clacos Zero 0:40 3. Untung Untungan 11:13 4. Clacos-1 1:58 5. El Ruotuav Ed Sram 8:16 6. Clacos-2 0:48 7. Le Meurtrier Volant 9:01 8. Batifolade 5:29 9. Soif 1:17 10. La Tempete De Sable-3 4:51 11. Reveries Lubriques 1:09 12. The Final Run 5:01 LINEUP: Fabrice Toussaint – trombone; percussion Bernard Eber – trumpet; voices Pierre Wawzyniak – bass Philemon Walter – drums Guillaume Gravelin – harp Vincent Sexauer – el. guitar With: Julien Traveletti – bass trombone (3, 5, 7, 8) Francesco Zago – ac. guitar (3, 4)
Prolusion. “Schnorgl Attahk” is the debut album by the French band CAMEMBERT.
Analysis. While the title of this 12-track album obviously hints at Magma, its creators deploy features of Space Fusion, Jazz Rock and RIO much more frequently than those of Zeuhl, at least the ‘magmatic’ one. The main reference points would be Gong and Factor Burzaco – heavy strains of these two ensembles are here in the percussion and brass sections respectively, albeit a compositional flair winks stronger at the former outing, fairly often bringing to mind a cross between “Gazeuce” and “Angel’s Egg” (but not “Camembert Electrique”, in spite of the band’s name). I wouldn’t say that the music is highly original, but there are so many highlights I can point to that it hardly matters. Anyhow, Camembert’s approach to fusing the styles is quite a bit out of the norm (lacking a better expression), plus they aren’t afraid of adding extra genre colorations to the mix. Exotic folk motifs, referring to Chinese and North-East Asian traditions, are a real surprise for one thing. Harp is also not an obvious choice either, but the band features one, using it actively and effectively alike: in adding elements of classical to the mix in particular. While Fabrice Toussaint’s trumpet parts appear for the most part as riffs, as a percussionist the man works wonders throughout, now providing a lot of extra textural layers and melodic flourishes, now appearing at the helm of the arrangements, which are normally multi-layered in turn. The music is strongly reminiscent of Gong circa 1976 when he uses his vibraphone as one of the leading instruments, while when the band’s explorations pursue calmer, space rock/fusion, moments, those instantly bring me back to Gong’s “Radio Gnome” trilogy, its aforementioned part in particular. The implying influences are obvious on all of the longer tracks, which range in length from 5 to 11 minutes. Two of those, The Final Run and Batifolade, alternate sections with jazz-rock and space-fusion arrangements, albeit the former are prevalent. Untung Untungan, Le Meurtrier and El Ruotuav Ed Sram each reveal all three of the main components of the band’s overall style in approximately equal proportions, while Volant and La Tempete De Sable-3, as well as one of the cuts, Clacos-2, are richer in RIO-like moves, and then music strongly reminds me of Factor Burzaco’s, particularly that on their second album, which features a vibraphone player. With the exception of the concluding one, The Final Run (which is too jovial for my taste), all of these compositions are excellent, standing out for their tight and intricate ensemble work. Of the remaining five tracks none exceed 1:30 in duration, but only the two that the album begins with, Infinicheese (Infiniteeth would be cooler, to my mind) and Clacos Zero, musically represent almost nothing, as both consist predominantly of effects, noises, etc – as also does Reveries Lubriques, but uses those as a background for the solos of electric guitar and harp. Clacos-1 is a fine composition, basically an interaction between acoustic guitar and vibes. Finally, the sonically dense Soif finds the band doing a joint improvisation. Back to the exotic colorations: they are present on Clacos-1 and El Ruotuav Ed Sram, in both cases as full-fledged musical canvases, and also on Infinicheese, Untung Untungan and The Final Run – as a shaman’s growl.
Conclusion. “By the serious for the serious” would be a proper epigraph to Camembert’s “Schnorgl Attahk”. There are quite a few factors that make me enjoy the band’s music, and one of them is the incredible amount of freshness, which strikes in spite of any influences. Top-10-2011: one of the strongest releases of the year, this is a debut one.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: January 1, 2012
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