Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Recyclers - Davout (dStream 2018)

The idea of the ‘piano trio’ perhaps suggests centrality for the pianist, but at least since the ground-breaking work of Bill Evans, Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian this is not so – in such trios at their best, the piano, bass and drums are equal points of a triangle, three voices in ‘trialogue’. There is a radical spirit inherent in The Recyclers’ approach that celebrates the tradition of the piano trio, but sidesteps and offers inventive alternatives to it, setting up situations and ideas that push and pull it in new directions, recognising that music can be about ‘playing’ in every sense of the word.

The Recyclers formed in Paris in 1992, with Benoît Delbecq on piano, Steve Argüelles on drums and percussion, originally alongside the guitarist Noël Akchoté, who was replaced in 1999 by ‘Disco’ Christophe Minck on bass. On this album Minck enriches the sound by supplementing his bass guitar playing with the addition of moog, ngoni and harp. (The atmospheric saxophone of Antonin Tri Hoang adds further colour on one track too.) Anchored in a primarily acoustic sound world, the trio’s deft use of electronic effects provides an unobtrusive lift, countering, highlighting or elongating the natural acoustics of their instruments, or sometimes emphasising the open spaces of the music. 

The piano trio constitutes a contained space, but one within which Delbecq, Minck and Argüelles can still be relatively boundless in form and format. Like the best artists in any creative form, they carve out new pathways through traditional forms, re-making and multiplying their rhythmic relationship to them; deflecting, unravelling and rebuilding them melodically as they go. Their mutual understanding is based on generosity and alert listening so that their intertwined lines undulate like Möbius strips in ever-changing shadings. Their music possesses a rhythmic presence and melodic invention that eludes categorisation, as well as an undercurrent of pleasurable tension through the trio’s ability to change direction at any given moment.

We often speak of ‘making’ music, and this trio reveal how physical that act of making is. They confront us with their bodily reality through their interaction with their instruments and our own bodily reality as we engage with and respond to their music. The process of its construction is audible in its melodic flow, in the interruption to that flow by rhythmic twists and turns, and in the interlocking warp and weft of its textures. Defined by incessant motion, for its makers and its listeners, this music fires the imagination, takes you off on tangents, but keeps your (dancing) feet on the ground. It makes listening and hearing feel palpably fresh and vital. 

After repeated listening to this album I have found myself each time able to hear different sounds, rhythms, tones, or thoughts. It’s not too fanciful to think that there are ghosts in this music too – it was recorded in the legendary (and sadly recently closed) Studio Davout. Visual imagery of all kinds is conjured by these sounds, something that becomes more resonant with the knowledge that Studio Davout was housed in a former Paris cinema. And the legendary artists who recorded at the studios since their creation in 1965 range from Michel Legrand to Karlheinz Stockhausen, from Serge Gainsbourg to Archie Shepp, Nico to Keith Jarrett, Nina Simone and Abbey Lincoln to The Skatalites, Dexter Gordon to Yo-Yo Ma, and from Talking Heads to Herbie Hancock. Recorded in such a mythic location, and paying tribute to it in the album’s title, the eclectic influences of this genre-defying music might have seeped through the studio walls as well as being ingrained in The Recyclers’ consciousness. 

Derek Horton

1. Whammy 05:53
2. Nouvettes 06:14
3. Caboose 08:20
4. Kitchen 02:17
5. Minaret 10:21
6. +X 08:23

Steve Argüelles - drums, percussion
Benoît Delbecq - piano
Christophe `Disco’ Minck - bass, moog, ngoni, harp
(#6 Antonin Tri-Hoang - tenor saxophone)

All compositions by Steve Argüelles

Recorded at Davout studios in Paris, France
Recorded by students of the ESIS `école supérieur de l’image et du son’ Matthieu Lefevre & Louis Roueche Rossi mentored by Samuel Navel
Mixed and edited by Steve Argüelles at Plushspace
Mastered by Philippe Teissier du Cros
Session photos by Igor Juget
Production déléguée pour dStream/ Bureau de Son - Charlène Pré
Bureau de son est soutenu par la DRAC île de france - Ministère de la culture

The Recyclers - Studio Davout - Teaser from Igor Juget on Vimeo.