Au Ni Kita ("Music for Guitars" in a Salomon Islands dialect) is the first album by the French guitar quartet Misère et Cordes, whose name is a pun on the French word "miséricorde" (mercy). Four different guitars, four guitarists with very different backgrounds: Pascal Battus' "surrounded" guitar was developed through radical free improvisation; Emmanuel Petit's acoustic guitar playing follows the guidelines of British luminaries Derek Bailey and Roger Smith; Dominique Répécaud's electric guitar grew up in avant-rock bands; Camel Zekri's classical guitar with electronics is rooted in traditional North African music and in the technological research of Zack Settel and Atau Tanaka. The music of this quartet is pluri-textural, multi-directional, and often gripping. Scratching and plucking, noise and jagged melodies, strummed chords and E-Bow: all are heard at some point, and many at the same time. The level of virtuosity is almost blinding, and yet nothing feels forced or rushed. Unlike the Fred Frith Guitar Quartet, this ensemble works exclusively within a free improvisation frame, although it seems one "leader" was determined for each piece (hence the writing credits). The album's peak is "Thinging," 15 minutes of sheer excitement with multiple changes in direction and a climax dominated by Zekri's unrecognizable classical guitar. The more delicate "Argil" provides another highlight. Parts of this music will feel abstract, even cold to some ears -- and there are uninspired moments -- but experimental guitar lovers will have much to chew on with Au Ni Kita.
AllMusic Review by François Couture