Influenced by dance, theater, and the fine arts, composer/clarinetist Louis Sclavis once again illustrates his increasing relevance to modern music thanks to this impressive 2002 effort. With his fifth outing for ECM Records, Sclavis continues his path of artistic excellence. This is a soundtrack for a recently exhumed French silent movie, though viewing the film shouldn't necessarily be a prerequisite for letting one's imagination delve into the visual aspects of this reconditioned antique. On this release, the clarinetist utilizes a dual string section to complement accordionist Jean-Louis Matinier's Parisian cabaret-type musings amid the quintet's shrewd instillation of movement. The musicians intertwine chamber-esque accents with elements of jazz and European folksiness during many of these selections, where animated choruses and memorably melodic themes abound throughout. Essentially, the band provides the listener with a tool for his or her imagination, as listeners can envision dancers and cinematic episodes in concert with the artists' probing lines and fragilely executed unison choruses. They also investigate various angles to coincide with an abundance of inspiring subplots and minimalist-type excursions. Another interesting component relates to the soloists' radiant harmonies and contrapuntal statements. Simply put, Sclavis' multi-hued and altogether vividly constructed arrangements hit the mark in a noticeably huge way.
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AllMusic Review by Glenn Astarita