Metz is one of two CDs featuring Jean-Sébastien Mariage that were released in late 2004 on Creative Sources, and while L'Écorce Chante la Forêt is disappointing in its lack of corporeality, Metz is the exact opposite, even though both recordings fall in the current of radically quiet free improvisation. Xavier Charles is heard here on acoustic clarinet only (a rarity since he began to work with vibrating surfaces) and is joined by Bertrand Denzler on tenor sax, Mariage (once of the group Chamaeleo Vulgaris) on electric guitar and fairly newcomer violinist Mathieu Werchowski (whose session in trio with John Russell and Ute Völker, Three Planets, is more energy-driven but just as intense as this one). Recorded live in October 2003 at the Temple Neuf in Metz, France, Metz is presented as a single 32-minute piece, but it sounds like a suite of roughly five-minute segments (either edited together or performed "as is" with collective silences occurring naturally). Some passages are extremely quiet, but they never let go of the tension that holds the performance together. There are dynamic exchanges between Charles and Denzler, crackling textures from Mariage, and a lot of highly-relevant nervous playing from Werchowski. The range of dynamics, the variety in the sound palette, the virtuosity displayed by Charles and Denzler (listen to that tongue work) and the structure of the piece in short episodes all contribute to keeping the listener on the edge of his or her seat until the very last seconds. This is exactly the kind of balance Ernesto Rodrigues has been reaching in his group recordings and it comes as no surprise that Metz would come out on his imprint. Creative Sources followers will have no difficulty immersing themselves in this highly recommended release.
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