Ghost Rhythms

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Ghost Rhythms (2007), 6.5/10
Sept Cercles (2012), 5/10
Madeleine (2015), 6/10
Imaginary Mountains (2020), 6.5/10
Spectral Music (2021), 6/10

French jazz-rock ensemble Ghost Rhythms, assembled by drummer Xavier Gelard and pianist Camille Petit, debuted with Ghost Rhythms (2007), that contains the twelve-minute 23rd Hour Screen Music, basically a sequence of variations on a melodic theme, particularly the dreamy flute passages, the 15-minute Arcane 17, more abstract and cerebral composition with Caribbean and funky syncopation, and a bit of sax neurosis, and the sprightly keyboard-driven jazz-rock of the nine-minute Chambre Claire.

Half of Sept Cercles (2012) is devoted to the 23-minute Sept Cercles, in which Camille Petit's piano and Julien Bigorgne's flute stand out as they lead a the dances around a jazzy leitmotiv with Nicolas Chambon (trumpet), Didier Priem (alto sax), David Rousselet (tenor sax), Guillaume Aventurin (guitar), Xavier Gelard (drums) and Gregory Kosovski (bass).

The double-disc Madeleine (2015) is a reservoir of ideas, but mostly not fully implemented. The bombastic eight-minute I Did Not, the tense twelve-minute Aleph and the chaotic seven-minute La Circulaire contain plenty of moments of creative interplay, but don't quite organize such moments in something that sounds like an elegant, self-contained, complete unit. The 16-minute Carlotta Valdes marks the peak of interplay, rhythm, melody and sax exuberance, the kind of cohesion and development that is missing in most of the other pieces. The album is littered with stylistic detours, notably the neoclassical ambient adagio Apparition #1 and the minimalist Relief, that perhaps are worth more than the lengthy brainy pieces. The leaders assembled: Guillaume Aventurin (guitar), Maxime Berton (reeds), Julien Bigorgne (flute), Julien Blanchard (contrabass), Alexis Collin (accordion), Gregory Kosovski (bass), Morgan Lowenstein (percussions), Nadia Mejri-Chappelle (cello), Regis Pons (trumpet), David Rousselet (tenor sax), Maxime Thiebaut (soprano, alto and baritone saxes), and Virginie Boulignat (violin).

The EP Mind the Goat (2018) contains the rather confused ten-minute jam Mind the Goat.

Live at Yoshiwara (2019) consists almost entirely of new material.

The highlights of Imaginary Mountains (2020) are the eleven-minute Tumuc Humac, propelled by a Caribbean-tinged piano pattern, and and the ten-minute Horizontal Ascension, an ebullient, rocking and swinging suite a` la Colosseum's Valentyne Suite. Both feature the flute of Julien Bigorgne. The rest of the band includes, besides the two leaders: Alexis Collin (accordion) , Augustin Lusson (violin), Nadia Mejri-Chapelle (cello), Gregory Kosovski (bass), Tom Namias (guitars and viola), Maxime Thiebaut (saxophones and flute), and Darja Zemele (harpsichord).

For Spectral Music (2021), dedicated to Wyatt Hopper, the recently deceased founder of the Research Institute for the Telepathic Hypothesis in Music, the leaders assembled Tom Namias and Guillaume Aventurin (guitars), Gregory Kosovski (bass), Morgan Lowenstein (percussion), Nadia Mejri-Chapelle (cello), Antoine Villedieu (violin) and Julien Bigorgne (flute). The highlights are all at the beginning: Morgan Lowenstein's Caribbean-tinged ten-minute Le Mont Marsal, boasting an ebullient flute solo by Bigorgne and intricate piano playing by Petit; the Ennio Morricone-esque Thoughtography, replete with epic trumpet; and the feverish Odradek, with an intermezzo of romantic accordion (Alexis Collin) and Thiebaut's spirited saxophone solo. Unfortunately, the ten-minute Spectral Music 1 and the eight-minute Spectral Music 2 are a bit too brainy for the sake of being brainy, and the moments of real enjoyment are relatively few (the baroque intermezzo eight minutes into the former piece, and the syncopated jazzy opening of the latter). Gregory Kosovski's nine-minute L'Autre Versant is more lively (especially when the distorted guitar wreaks havoc in an otherwise scholarly jam), while Julien Bigorgne's eight-minute Uchimizu fails to develop. Edited down to a four-song mini-album, this would have been a more mature effort.

(Copyright © 2021 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )