Jean-Luc Guionnet


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Bare-boned electro-acoustic improvisation is a hit and miss. So many factors come into play to decide on the fate of the performance -- not all of them falling under the control of the musicians. This is even more acute with Toshimaru Nakamura and his no-input mixing board, an instrument with a limited sound palette if there ever was one. His duo set with sax player Lucio Capece (Ij, released very close to Map) is tied together by such a tenuous line of sound that it actually falls apart. On the other hand, Map, his collaboration with French saxophonist/organist Jean-Luc Guionnet (of Hubbub, among other stable projects) is a hit. Through its 70 minutes of duration, the music remains inquisitive, exploratory, dramatic, and fascinating, even though it is often fragmented and occasionally falls below the threshold of audibility. The first three tracks were recorded in Montreuil on March 17, 2007; the last piece comes from Collegiale Sainte-Croix, July 20, 2007. The Montreuil set is very quiet and stark, but the two improvisers keep the music tightly focused. Guionnet is on organ (which sounds as puzzling as Nakamura's board) in the first piece, then on alto sax in the next two. Track three is a marvelous soundscape of sine waves and unwavering sax notes. The Sainte-Croix piece, the longest on the album at 23 minutes, gets a lot more raucous and noisy. Here, Guionnet is back at the organ, for a duo of uncanny textural drones. Map is a harsh and demanding proposition, but it also has soul.

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