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Acknowledged as an accomplished French percussionist who has worked with the likes of Daunik Lazro, Didier Lasserre pivots to stretch his compositional skills with this suite loosely linked to sentiments from John Milton’s “Paradise Lost”. More exploratory than ecclesiastical, the core of this three-part, seven section arrangement is to map the clashes, contrasts and cooperation among sonorities. On board are more exemplary French improvisers: trumpeter/flugelhornist Jean-Luc Cappozzo, clarinetist Benjamin Bondonneau, pianist Christine Wodrascka, cellist Gaël Mevel and vocalist Laurent Cerciat. Besides Lasserre’s collection of drums, baroque tympano and bells, Silence was Pleased is sustained by processes from Loïc Lachaize’s sound machinery and Denis Cointe’s so-called live “tinnitus” sounds.
Actually the first noises heard on the disc are a combination of Cointe’s ear-ringing tones and buzzing crackles, until Cappozzo’s shaded “Reveille”-like bugling confirms the veracity of “Light”, the introductory sequence. Adroit in compositional balance, the subsequent staccato reed tones, chiming piano pressure and intermittent voltage drones which gradually wake up the program are combined by the third and final section of “Night” which completes the program. Balancing horizontal reed screeches, drum rumbles and echoing keyboard clips the resulting polytonality builds to a stinging crescendo. Cushioned by descending instrumental textures, Cerciat, whose bel canto tessitura often made it difficult to ascertain in which language he is singing, pivots to English to express some sentiments of Milton’s epic tale. Therefore the last sound heard on the disc is the vocalist appropriately intoning “silence”.
Between those points the players have a chance to stretch out their interpretations. Besides near-davening syllables from Cerciat; melody delineation from Wodrascka; blunt slices from Mevel and shifting half-valve tones from Cappozzo, the suite’s climax is reach when the drummer gets his own space. On the successive “moon rising in clouded majesty” and “apparent queen, peerless light”, the transition from day to night is marked as Lasserre explodes the narrative with multiple press rolls and bass drum reverberations that rhythmically confirm the slide to darkness. Cymbal cracks finally unite with portamento blowing from the trumpeter, stop-time keyboard comping and crackling electronics to diffuse sonic hardness and adumbrate the concluding motif. Proving himself as innovative composer as a percussionist, new Lasserre music will be awaited with further expectations.
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