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Although I'm certainly still expecting more releases of note dated 2020 at this point, some dated 2021 are already appearing. And the first to make an impression on my ears was Neigen, a generally leisurely album of close conversation on Ayler Records, performed by a quartet of Nicolas Souchal (trumpet & flugelhorn), Michael Nick (acoustic violin & electroacoustic octave violin), Daunik Lazro (tenor & baritone saxophones) & Jean-Luc Cappozzo (trumpet, flugelhorn & objects): I was totally unfamiliar with Souchal & Nick (& am assuming that they are younger), but of course Lazro & Cappozzo are fixtures in this general arena. (Lazro was first reviewed here in April 2012, around the haiku-inspired trio album Pourtant les cimes des arbres, while Cappozzo had appeared in general improvisatory settings, and then was featured on the trio album Grey Matter, as reviewed in February 2014.... They also have a previous trio together on Ayler, including standards & released in 2017....) The detailed, timbre-focused interactions of Neigen also recall various projects around Ernesto Rodrigues — here "mostly" acoustic, although the electroacoustic octave violin is prominent on one track — but there's also (as noted) a distinct conversational or rhetorical sense to Neigen. Different pieces (of the nine) then observe different interactions & orientations, a series of what might seem like little studies, but with a definite affective quality, a degree of calm, even during dissonant clashes. (Neigen thus differs markedly from most of the recent albums on Ayler, which tend to have a rock orientation or background...) The often leisurely vibe also leads into what is likely to become a new theme here: Was this album actually recorded with the musicians together in one space? The Ayler website notes it was recorded in 2020, but there are no dates or locations. There is an engineer named, though (i.e. not one of the performers). Was this project recorded over the internet? I'm really not sure, but it could be. (That the release is coy about its details & intent is certainly nothing new....) Anyway, the result comes to suggest e.g. the Spectral horn trio, whose latest album Empty Castles was reviewed here in July 2018, not only because Neigen involves three horns itself (with violinist Nick often seeming much like another horn), but because of the sense of "acoustic echo" that also maintains. There is no sense of physical space projected, though, but rather a kind of interrogation of synchronicity. (This impression remains regardless of how the music was actually made....) The result is generally mellow (& does sound increasingly rhetorical, clearly evoking "free jazz" by the end...), but I've found it to be engaging. And perhaps with a little splash of nostalgia lurking within its ecology.
[ And it turns out that my speculation was incorrect: I've been informed that the recording was made "the old fashioned way" at Cappozzo's abode, over the course of a few days. ]
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