Qui Parle? Well, Marc Ducret, for one, along with Leslie Sévenier, Philippe Agaël, and Laurence Blasco. And Anne Magouët sings. With all this vocalizing en Français, linguistically challenged stateside listeners -- even Ducret's fans -- may be inclined to pass up this Sketch label disc in favor of the French guitarist's purely instrumental offerings on labels like Winter & Winter and Screwgun, fearing non-comprehension of the CD's contents. They shouldn't worry about that, because Qui Parle? is arguably Ducret's finest recording as a leader to this point, displaying the full range of his talents and placing those talents into a most impressive setting overall. Plus, the vocals -- mainly spoken word snippets that arise here and there -- don't really make up a sizable portion of the nearly 75 minutes of extraordinary music on Qui Parle? Of course, hearing Ducret and Sévenier read an excerpt from nouveau roman author Alain Robbe-Grillet's Dans le Labyrinthe and understanding those words is important in contextualizing the music surrounding the words, but the music stands on its own regardless. Here, Ducret and his dependable trio partners of bassist Bruno Chevillon and drummer Éric Échampard are augmented from track to track by a host of other instrumentalists on piano, saxophones, trumpet, tuba, sampler, violin (by Dominique Pifarély, who goes unmentioned in the main CD credits), and more. As listeners of Ducret's solo recordings know, the guitarist is an expert in the use of space, often letting his chords and notes ring out into silence at carefully chosen moments. Qui Parle? reveals those same skills at times, but also shows that he is a varied composer who knows the best places to use density and how to integrate diverse instrumentation into his music. There are more ideas stuffed into this CD than most Ducret listeners might be prepared for -- everything from avant rock and jazz to free funk to modern chamber composition to acoustic folk and blues are part of the guitarist's lexicon. Yet, it all fits together and is far more than a series of disconnected experiments in style. Who speaks? Marc Ducret, in a language any music lover could understand. Knowledge of French may be helpful now and then, but is far from mandatory.
AllMusic Review by Dave Lynch