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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Un Drame Musical Instantané - Rideau! [Klanggalerie - 2017]

This is a reissue of French trio Instantaneous Musical Drama's second album which was originally released in 1980 on their own label GRRR. I must say I'm a newcomer to their brand of surreal avant-garde happenings; my only previous exposure being the track Tunnel Sous la Manche which appeared on the Steven Stapleton curated compilation In Fractured Silence in 1987 and which is included here as a bonus track in extended form. The three members: Jean-Jacques Birgé, Bernard Vitet and Francis Gorgé bring together a wide variety of electronic and acoustic instrumentation, sliding to and fro from free jazz experimentation to more contemporary rock, electronic and classical styles.

Album opener M'Enfin (The phantom of Liberty) is a perfect condensation of the band's modus operandi. It begins with the sound of numbers being recited in French before being joined by plucking guitar and a wonderfully pathos infused muted trumpet from Vitet. This is no smooth jazz piece though, as the lyrical horn is played off against found sounds, electronic noises and a rather drunken tuba. The trumpet is retained as the spectral host on the longest piece presented here. Over fifteen minutes the title track veers from almost Thomas Stańko like shady jazz across wild carnivalsque excursions involving flutes, organs and analogue synth bleeps. It's not all that chaotic in truth and within each passage one of the players tends to take the lead with other improvising around him. At the five minute mark Birgé lays down a lovely droning organ solo vaguely reminiscent of Francis Seyrig's playing for Resnais iconic Last Year in Marienbad. Don't get too comfortable though as a couple of minutes later the piece leaps into a bit of proto techno.

La Critique (Ask Why) basically sounds like an extended improvisation around the theme tune to Ren and Stimpy played by a pissed Miles Davis with Steven Stapleton as sideman. This is a compliment by the way. Short interludes of jaw harp, radio static and GMR-like analogue sounds break up the wonky jazz.

The four bonus tracks, all recorded in June 1983 show a considerable shift in the group's sound. While still predominantly improvised, the style (mostly achieved by the introduction of piano) is more comparable to the experimental classical works by John Cage and Christian Wolff. There's a more conscious use of silence and counterpoint which tempers the riotous mood of the pieces from 1980 and allows each player his time. The best of the four pieces is the extended Tunnel Sous la Manche where the group - as well as tipping their hats to American minimalism - also imbibe a good deal of Dada and electronic weirdness from the second wave of industrial music. A more classically minded and musical Nurse With Wound is the obvious touchstone, but Un Drame Musical Instantané have enough of their own sound and obsessions (notably post-war Parisian jazz) to bring something quite interesting and surprisingly listenable to the table. This reissue will hopefully bring a new generation to their discography.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Duncan Simpson
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