50 ballets



Nicolas Field | Alexandre Babel





















If I had a living room, or even a room of decent size, things would probably be different. But the situation as it is works against a collector’s impulse. Trim the fat, be as unburdened as you can be.
I had been stacking them up, though: File Under Improv recordings. But over-documentation has long stepped in, and lack of space is a good opportunity for… freeing up space. Everybody puts out records that I am forced to consider as potentially significant. Music of small means that’s actually a big-budget affair to keep up with. Add the « live » thing: music of seeming spontaneity, conceived and aborted every second, then piled as more recorded corpses on floors and shelves. Collection items.
Different schedules, different plans, and a few thousand miles distance: I have actually never seen Nicolas Field and Alexandre Babel play live. Which might be why “50 Ballets” breathes like the living thing to my ears. Why this record is as unburdened as I would like myself to be, and has therefore become a precious travel companion. As opposed to so many listened-to-it-once dismissals.
I have never seen them perform, but I have shared a good few drinks with Alexandre and Nicolas. Well-educated people and musicians, that no doubt know a good deal more than I do about File Under Improv music, but aren’t about making statements, neither when we sit down to drink and talk, nor when they play, seems to me. “50 Ballets” isn’t there to pound out new statements for the File Under Improv music-buyer. It’s just busy, busy with itself – just because there’s enough in the well these two drum kits open up to justifiably want to look at the bottom of it. This is very serious music, but one of the most joyful I have recently heard. There’s no school to abide to, neither the “more” nor the “less” – just mastery of vocabulary and structure, and the will to make a gleeful noise.
It travels around with me, because it’s able to do its own thing, doesn’t beg for my attention the way the freshest relic to date would. Would rather bang the hell out of itself than teach me anything. This music doesn’t need a living room.

Luc Meier, Geneva, Tokyo, January 2006