Wiwili is a town in Nicaragua where Contras assassinated French, Swiss, and German men in July 1986. The violent context and obvious political weight ("civilian victims of Reagan's war," explain the liner notes) put in the name of this quartet -- and the title of its debut album -- doesn't presage light music. Indeed, Wiwili is not about silence-based improvisation. In fact, followers of Xavier Charles are in for a surprise, as this is his noisiest, most feverish session in a while. The music is mostly driven by the dual electric guitars of Hervé Gudin and Jean-Sébastien Mariage. Drummer Michel Deltruc rounds up the quartet; despite obvious talent for free improvisation, he likes to hammer a mean beat, which gives the album an overall sound that is closer to Soixante Etages/Etage 34 or Chamaeleo Vulgaris than to any of Charles' previous projects, be them clarinet- or electronics-based. "Bonnard! Monsieur Ponard" and "Camille" are hard-rocking numbers, beat heavy, with noisy guitar layers and crude electronics that bring to mind Sonic Youth or Dominique Répécaud's aforementioned bands. "Camille" (and with a title like that you wouldn't expect such an aural assault) is particularly filthy -- in the most positive way. The other pieces, especially "Le Silence des Pantoufles" and the 16-minute piece "Quatuor Pour Ceux d'En-Haut," are more tempered, blending textural electronics (Gudin and Charles are credited for "devices") and abstract playing, bringing out Charles' more subtle input and Deltruc's free-form percussion work. Fans of the Infusion or Mariage's previous projects will find a lot of replay value in Wiwili, an album with guts, passion, and immediacy, despite its demanding nature.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture