The fifth L'Ensemble Rayé CD features music written for the Movers dance production Vis-à-Vis, which premiered in Zurich during March 2001. The group's signature sound -- light folk-jazz-flavored instrumentals with appealing melodicism, crisp and inventive arrangements, and just enough intriguing sonic embellishments to provide an avant-garde edge -- remains intact from previous releases. Two newcomers have joined the band: Yann Altermath on alto sax and alto horn and Julien Baillod on guitar and bass. Baillod had a guest spot on the second L'Ensemble Rayé release, but is now a full-fledged member of the band and second only to clarinetist Pierre Kaufmann in composing credits for Vis-à-Vis Movers Dance Company's tunes. Cédric Vuille, a mainstay of the group since their inception, is featured on guitar and ukulele but composed none of CD's 13 concise pieces, and Jean 20 Huguenin, also a bandmember from the very beginning, wrote only one composition (although Huguenin's rich tenor guitar remains one of the group's most identifiable features). Like En Frac!, there are no drums on any of the pieces here, although they are unneeded in this often sprightly and propulsive music, thoroughly scored for the most part and recorded with few if any overdubs. The music touches upon Eastern European folk themes and rhythms and the band throws in a few curves (e.g., wildly abrasive skronk during the powerfully driving second half of Huguenin's "Nouveaux Amants" and atmospheric Middle Eastern-flavored electronica during "Flammes & Co"). The latter piece, composed by Baillod, could be viewed as either an admirable attempt to branch out into something new or a disruption to the feel of the album's other tracks. Regardless, Vis-à-Vis Movers Dance Company is another winner from L'Ensemble Rayé. Given the Winnie the Pooh theme of the band's preceding release, some adult fans might have worried about forever losing L'Ensemble Rayé to the kindergarten set, but Vis-à-Vis Movers would appear to put such concerns to rest.
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AllMusic Review by Dave Lynch