• X_Brane : nouvelle chronique

    Le souffle de Bertrand Gauguet, le feu couvant sous les cordes électriques de Jean-Sébastien Mariage, la terre où s’ancrent les percussions de Mathias Pontevia, soit trois éléments fondamentaux d’un son émergeant comme une source vive, un quatrième composant liquide.


Bertrand Gauguet : saxophones alto et soprano
Jean-Sébastien Mariage : guitare électrique
Mathias Pontevia : batterie horizontale


This fine realise from Bordeaux’s bijou imprint Amor Fati shows how far these three French improvisors have moved away from their heady flirtation with Reductionism at the turn of the century. Both forward – guitarist Jean-Sébastien Mariage’s work here is spikier and riskier than the delicate textures he provides in the quintet Hubbub – and backward : Mathias Pontevia’s « horizontal drums » recall Lê Quan Ninh, and saxophonist Bertrand Gauguet has extended his repertoire of rasps, gasps, flutters and sputters to reveal an ear for pitch his 2005 solo debut Etwa never hinted at. The centrepiece, the 34 minute « Tsuri », combines his raw multiphonics, the twang and crunch of Mariage’s guitar and Pontevia’s dramatic friction with a feel for the long form AMM would be proud of. The heartbeat might be slow but the animal is dangerous.
Dan Warburton, The Wire, Mai 2011

The CD in question is a new release by X_BRANE, the French trio of Bertrand Gauguet, (alto and soprano sax) Jean-Sébastien Mariage, (electric guitar) and Mathias Pontevia (batterie horizontale apparently, though I think basically percussion). I’ve no idea where the group named X_BRANE comes from, but this release, on the fine Amor Fati label is titled Penche un peu vers l’angle (Lean at little at an angle ??) and contains a lot of music, with the three tracks here totalling up more than seventy minutes of improvisation. The recordings were made in a studio of some kind rather than in front of an audience, so the quality of the sound is great. What is difficult for me is trying to describe this music in any simple or lazy way. It is at once thoroughly familiar and yet also impossible to define with a few catchwords, which has to be a good thing.
Ultimately the music here is instrumental improvisation, three pieces of music performed spontaneously with relatively traditional tools. However, trying to pin this one down to any one corner of the improvised music spectrum is completely impossible. It is far from overly busy stuff, maintaining a slow pace throughout, but then it also falls into complete silence only very rarely, and when it wants to it can push the tension levels hard. Of the three musicians, the only one that doesn’t really play his instrument at any point in a completely traditional manner is Mariage, whose playing impressed me a lot when I saw Hubbub in London recently. His guitar playing is highly restrained, centred mostly around extended sounds, many of them tonal, often the result of eBow work or bowed strings. What he contributes seems very simple, but is in fact very carefully and delicately chosen and placed around the more traditionally familiar sounds of Gauguet’s breathy sax and the vibrating metals and booming strikes of Pontevia’s percussion.
Richard Pinnell - The Watchful Ear

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