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Eric Brochard & Fabrice Favriou - Derviche

Thomas Mellish, The Squid's Ear


On the inside cover of this album is a quotation that concerns the "ritualistic form", and how this form is both internally and externally "valid." The ritualistic form will never die; it will continue in perpetuity, operating by its own rules. The arts have often been thought of as being something that resists logic; they cannot, and will not, be the subject of scientific and mathematical interrogation. To use some philosophy (sorry), art is, to use Bakhtin's term, a "once-occurrent thing." Art can only make sense within its own space. If we try to make art the subject of logic, and tear it from its own context, we will remove its essentially singular nature.

Since listening to this album and looking at its cover art, I feel that both Favriou and Brochard are making this sort of comment. The fact that, on the back of the album, there is a section of Pi, which repeats infinitely according to its own internal logic, makes this idea more explicit. Music, much like the ritualistic form, is vitally singular. Music, like Pi, is eternally valid and operates under its own schema.

The tracks on this album operate like their own individual worlds. Each track is similar, to some extent. However, they differ just enough to be distinct. Each track seems to have its own unique sequence. 'Sequence 1' offers the first of these many individual, internally coherent, worlds. Throbbing and pulsating bass chords muse over the steady beats offered by Favriou's metronomic drumming. Rattling cymbals are married with Brochard's atavistic waves of sound. This track never falters or wains; it simply marches on. The sequence stays true.

In 'Sequence 2', the logical structure given to us by the artists in 'Sequence 1' is quickly revoked. Brochard's once prominent chords are resolved into a wall of fuzzy dissonance. Seemingly whimsical key changes and sudden staccato movements construct peaks and troughs of uninterpretable noise. Even Favriou's drumming begins to loosen and indulge the primal piccolo bass of Brochard. However, somewhat puzzlingly, these stochastic notes still feel as if they are part of a grander whole. Somehow, in the wider context of this song, these moments of randomness remain an element of some greater sequence and pattern. I cannot put my finger on it.

'Sequence 3' provides a sharp change of tone. Dissonance becomes ambience. Noise becomes clear chromatic chords. Animalistic and loose drumming becomes subtle ghost notes. Polyrhythms interplay and converse. Again, there is a discernible sequence in this track. However, one wonders if this is the calm before another storm.

'Sequence IV' is this storm. It begins with whining and tremolo augmented bass notes. Favriou's drumming attunes and dictates when the next chord is struck. The drums act as restraint on the bass, despite it becoming increasingly primal as the song progresses. A climax is reached; a struggle arises. The sequence is seemingly broken by this sudden revolution. The vying is concluded by a passage of ferociously played chords and perturbed cymbals. Order seems to triumph; the drums resume their hegemony over the track. The bass still growls contemptuously. A struggle then arises again, and so does another. Then the moment of realization hits you: in the greater context of the song, these conflicts are not moments of genuine randomness or a breaking of the sequence; the initial fight wasn't a moment of stochastic whim. Just like in 'Sequence 2', it was all a part of the sequence.

'Sequence V' provides a gentle conclusion to an otherwise abrasive sonic landscape. Hushed and husky vocals take center stage. Subtle riffs underscore these equally gentle and precarious vocals. This sequence continues until a point of equanimity; a point of tranquility is reached. And then it ends.

Derviche shows the singularity of art, and how art (as a matter of essentiality) rejects quantification. Art cannot be taken out of its context. These tracks all function and operate as their own cohesive wholes; each track has its own unique sequence and logic. As a listener, you can peer into and experience these individual worlds piece by piece. It is an uncanny experience.