Bruno Letort

Lignes

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Part interpretation, part collaboration -- including drawing on some unreleased work by the late Hector Zazou -- Lignes finds Bruno Letort engaged once more in the kind of composition that resists too-pat description as either progressive rock (in any sense) or modern classical music -- or much else in between. With Letort handling often queasy, unsettled guitar parts, he and his collaborators, including Japanese singer Kumi Okamoto and orchestral director Jean-Paul Dessy, whose Ensemble Musiques Nouvelles premiered the piece in concert in 2007, create a series of often short selections drawing on the novel of the same name by Murakami Ryu. The collective results are all attractively mesmerizing in a dark, moody fashion, but that oversimplifies the often striking range shown piece by piece. The whispered voices and distant tones that introduce "Fumi," for instance, verge between cinematic emotional impression and the feeling of a sonic installation, being surrounded by texture punctuated equally by sudden string interjections and a rhythmic feedback plucking. (The visual elements of the piece hinted at by the cover art but otherwise unavailable suggest how closely it would also function beyond the music itself.) Other pieces like "Junko" rely on a similar balance between space surrounded by the individual elements in the overall arrangement -- the pulsing string part in that selection always sounds separate from the low drones preceding its appearance -- though sometimes everything draws closer together. "Takayama," co-written by Okamoto, puts her singing closer to the forefront; if it's not a pop track as such it's the most immediate song on the album in a broadly understood sense -- something that the collage of vocals and notes in heavy echo at the start of "Yasuko" is not, though the rolling rock rhythm jam that follows has its own strong appeal.

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