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Marc Ducret - Tower, vol.4

Kurt Gottschalk, The Squid's Ear

Vladimir Nabokov's 1969 novel Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle is a seemingly straightforward and covertly mystifying book. Written in the style of a novel of manners à la Jane Austen or F. Scott Fitzgerald, the book crafts inventive twists in narrative structure and slowly undermines its staid setting. Marc Ducret has released five volumes of his "Tower" series of recordings, all based on the same brief chapter in Nabakov's 600+ page erotic masterpiece. Each of the releases has a different lineup of players and a different set of compositions. I want very much to understand how the music relates to the book, but I don't. I tried to ask Ducret after a rare appearance in New York and he gave me a look that seemed to suggest that there wasn't enough time to respond or that I wasn't supposed to ask to begin with.

So be it. Vol. 4 is a wonderful record, however it Is that it relates back to its inspiration. The disc features Ducret solo on acoustic guitar, a rare setting for him. Parts of the record come off as studies, such as the hammering opener "From a Distant Land" and some sections may come off as a bit showy, serving primarily to showcase his remarkable skills (Eddie aVant Halen?), but plenty of the record is just fantastic and emotive playing. "Sisters" is a short, slow and detuned number and "Real Thing #2" trades in fractured jazz chordings. Nabakov's heroine does get a brief and lovely refrain in a track bearing her name, which might seem to bring us back home were it not for the final track, an airy 68-second take on "Electricity" from Joni Mitchell's 1972 album "Electricity." Perhaps as with Nabakov, we sometimes have to let the artistry wash over us without asking too many questions.