After his largely solo album Henry: The Iron Man, Philippe Petit returned to his "& Friends" formula -- where he invites other musicians to either perform with him or provide him with samples of their playing. In the case of A Scent of Garmambrosia, the collaboration seems to reside closer to sample-providing than to the add-your-tracks-to-mine approach found on [Reciprocess: +/vs.]. And A Scent of Garmambrosia retains the atmosphere of mystery found on Henry: The Iron Man. For instance, "The Nuptial Flights of Fireflies" (the longest track at 13 minutes) could be seen as an orchestral variation on the first track on Henry -- and yet, the only actual other contributor on it is Spaceheads trumpeter Andy Diagram. The title track features violinists Alexander Bruck and Maria Grigoryeva, cellist Helena Espvall, and guitarist Hervé Vincenti in a sweet-and-sour piece strongly reminiscent of Petit and Vincenti's shape-shifting group Strings of Consciousness. The album's other highlight is "When a Seahorse Meets a Seafish…," with contributions from Raphaëlle Rinaudo (electric harp), Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello), and Tom Heasley (tuba). A Scent of Garmambrosia leaves the jazzier leanings of Silk-Screened behind, focusing on a more ambient and resolutely troubled artistic approach. Petit is a master at adding shades of grey to a soundscape. His vinyl manipulations and sonic pollutions are surprisingly delicate, incremental, and nuanced. This is not his easiest, most accessible album, but it rewards repeated attentive listens (and more so than Henry: The Iron Man). The physical release of the album includes a second CD with a 20-minute live performance by Petit and Perceval Bellone (sax, EWI, Tibetan bowls) featuring reworkings of two tracks from Silk-Screened ("Do Not Follow Your Own Shadow" and "Beyond the Mist").
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AllMusic Review by François Couture
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2