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(68:58, Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Neuf Songes 9:36 2. Le Voyageur Egare se Noie Incognito 3:19 3. Soir et Basalte 4:48 4. Errance 5:53 5. Resurgence D'Errance 2:52 6. Agrements Parfaitement Bleus-lI 6:21 7. Agrements Parfaitement Bleus Epilog 1:07 8. A Pretendre s'en Detacher 1:45 9. Noetra 6:12 10. Sens de l'Apres Midi 4:05 11. Galopera 6:41 12. Printemps Noir 6:58 13. Periodes 9:21 LINEUP: Jean Lapouge guitars Christian Paboeuf flute, oboe Pascal Leberre saxophones Daniel Renault drums Denis Lefranc bass Pierre Aubert violin Denis Viollet cello Claude Lapouge trombone With: Francis Michaud saxophone, flute Jacques Nobili trombone Laurent Tardif flute
Prolusion. The French ensemble NOETRA was first and foremost the creative vehicle of composer and guitarist Jean Lapouge. Active in various line-ups in the late 1970's and early 1980's, Noetra was the band that almost made it. ECM were initially interested in signing them, but as more material was produced the interest declined, and while the band did carry on until 1985 they never managed to release anything when active. Enter Musea Records, which some years later managed to convince Lapouge that the material recorded back then was worth releasing on CD. At the time of writing the end result of this process has been that material for three full length productions have been salvaged from Lapouge's archives.
Analysis. The first Noeta album, "Neuf Songes", is an intriguing but also fairly demanding production to get into. Especially for those less accustomed to material drawing directly upon classical music in general and chamber music in particular for inspiration, and if you're not overly familiar with jazz either this is a disc that will demand a bit more attention from you than you'd normally have to invest when listening to an album's worth of music. The key element throughout isn't a demanding one as such admittedly, as Lapouge's light toned and mostly gentle guitar motifs revolve around subtle details and careful exploits rather than dramatic excursions and flamboyant showmanship as such. While less visible and frequently taking a back seat as far as the dominating spots go, his guitar motifs are the heart and soul of this production, the gentle recurring element and underlying feature that unites everything else that's ongoing. Which at times is a lot. The compositions themselves aren't overly uniform in expression. Quite a few compositions include the occassional jazz-oriented detail, but while this is an important element, the dominating and overall style of this production has its heart and soul closer to classical music. Opening piece and title track Neuf Songes emphasizes this quite nicely with its light toned, uplifting and vibrantly positive take on the chamber rock genre, the following Le Voyageur Egare se Noie Incognito contuining in that vein in a shorter and arguably truly brilliant manner. The chamber and classical music inspired tendencies stick through from these opening pieces until the very end, through careful, melancholic constructions emphasizing the mellower side of that expression to energetic, pace filled takes, with sparse arrangements giving ample room for the individual instruments to shine as well as rich displays featuring arrays of instrument motifs in tight harmonic interaction. A Pretendre s'en Detacher is a nice example of Noetra exploring the gentler aspects of their repertoire, while the stunning triple themed Printemps Noir is a good showcase for the band's more forceful displays. Concluding this CD we have the six part creation Periodes, arguably the most vibrant display of the band venturing closest to the classical music universe and an excellent demonstration of how to utilize dark and light timbres to create a strong and distinct nerve as well as employing themes that invite to contrasting emotional associations to sustain it.
Conclusion. While not without minor flaws, Noetra's Neuf Songes is a production that clearly merited a CD release. Fans of chamber music and chamber rock appear to be the main audience for this production, and in particular those with a taste for music of this kind closer to classical music than rock should find this album to be one that merits an inspection.
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