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Memento Review

by David Jeffries

Trumpeter and St. Germain associate Pascal Ohsé is the cool cat behind Soel, a graceful and deep project that does the usual jazz/electronica blending with more heart and soul than expected, but not much in the way of new. A casual listen might have you thinking Memento is a Thievery Corporation record or a collection of St. Germain's more down tracks, but there's a couple differences. First is Soel's obvious desire to not sprawl across every type of black music. There's no reggae here and the slick sound of house music is only lightly dusted on some cuts. The other difference is Soel's attention to details. Memento is filled with tracks so well structured that headphones are necessary to catch everything. Layers of lazily strolling riffs and crisp production touches reward full-attention listening, but with rock-solid grooves, Memento also works just fine in the background. "Le Vicomte" combines the pleasing sound of A Day in the Life-era Wes Montgomery with the quirky fun of the Bill Cosby/Quincy Jones cut "Hikky-Burr" while "To This World" sounds like Massive Attack's "Unfinished Symphony" even more unfinished. This bouncing between the outgoing and barely there works due to producer Ludovic Navarre's great pacing of the album as he drops loopy, more clubby tracks between Funkadelic-type sprawls and cerebral, narrated numbers. Last Poet samples and Latin music as seen through the eyes of War are the final ingredients in this indigo soup of sound and if there's a bummer to be had, it's that Ohsé is lost among it all. Fans of his trumpet playing are going to find very little of it, and you get the impression he's more of a conductor with his back to the audience. That's fine since so many other genre-blending, cutting-edge, "look at me" albums have tripped over their own ambition. Memento just wants to "be," preferably at 4 a.m., in the rainy morning, sitting under the On the Corner poster, at the coolest after-hours club in town.

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