(D’Autres Cordes)

Sometimes collective efforts by musicians with diverse backgrounds can reveal lack of balance or a tendency to disconnectedness, occasionally spelling failure. In this concert, recorded in November 2008 at Venice’s Teatro Fondamenta Nuove, the involved parts’ cleverness assures that the levels of energy and the intelligibility of the interplay remain at the forefront, rendering this CD at least acceptable despite a couple of not exactly encouraging factors (one of them being the “enhanced bootleg tape” quality of the recording).

Accordingly, the rhythm section (if defining Baron and Chevillon’s tandem as such makes any sense) appears overly dominant the mix, in various instances. The initial “Acqua Alta” explodes in a lawless amassment of roaring drums and cluttered low frequencies before the dust settles around grating shards from Sharp and Vigroux’s guitars. The musicians seem aware of the problem, intelligently limiting free-for-all outbursts to the minimum, privileging instead a kind of semiconscious searching that utilizes electronics and samples sporadically and, in a way, harmoniously. In “Fondamenta Nuove” snippets of Italian language (probably taken from radio or TV) mixed with the effects derived from Vigroux’s turntables try to gift the music with a touch of humor, but in truth this is an old trick. Sharp demonstrates his unsung saxophone abilities, balancing the general uncertainty evoked by Chevillon’s processed double bass amidst perplexing synthetic fumes.

The final, and also not completely lucid track is dedicated to Jimi Hendrix’s late drummer Mitch Mitchell, who had died in the same day of this performance; a slight return (pun intended) to the preliminary magmatic chaos until half-ethereal electronics prevail again. A fitting conclusion for a strange album that — for a series of intangible reasons — ultimately gives the idea of a not entirely accomplished mission. As if the human components were put together forcedly, merely trusting the respective talents to save the evening. That’s precisely what happened — with a honorable mention for the excellent Chevillon, who kicks like a mule throughout.