[…] The first group improvisation is by Xavier Charles (clarinet), Betrand Denzler (tenor saxophone), Jean-Sebastian Mariage (electric guitar) and Mathieu Werhowski (violin). Their 'Metz' piece was recorded in concert, in the French city of Metz of course. The thirty-two minute piece is a calm and introspective piece of music that slowly unfolds its beauty. Each of the instruments gets his time to develop and showcase itself. Each of the four players manages to keep things under control and no big counterpoint is there, but the soft and elegant flow maintains throughout. Frans de Waard (Vital Weekly)

«Metz» is one of two CDs featuring Jean-Sébastien Mariage that were released in late 2004 on Creative Sources, and while «L’Écorce Chante la Forêt» is disappointing in its lack of corporeality, «Metz» is the exact opposite, even though both recordings fall in the current of radically quiet free improvisation. Xavier Charles is here heard on acoustic clarinet only (a rarity since he began to work with vibrating surfaces) and joined by Bertrand Denzler on tenor sax, Mariage (once of the group Chamaeleo Vulgaris) on electric guitar and fairly newcomer violinist Mathieu Werchowski (whose session in trio with John Russell and Ute Volker, Three Planets, is more energy-driven but just as intense as this one).
Recorded live in October 2003 at the Temple Neuf in Metz, France, «Metz» is presented as a single 32-minute piece, but it sounds like a suite of roughly 5-minute segments (either edited together or performed “as is” with collective silences occurring naturally). Some passages are extremely quiet, but they never let go of the tension that holds the performance together.
There are dynamic exchanges between Charles and Denzler, crackling textures from Mariage, and a lot of highly-relevant nervous playing from Werchowski. The range of dynamics, the variety in the sound palette, the virtuosity displayed by Charles and Denzler (listen to that tongue work) and the structure of the piece in short episodes all contribute to keep the listener on the edge of his or her seat until the very last seconds. This is exactly the kind of balance Ernesto Rodrigues has been reaching in his group recordings and it comes as no surprise that «Metz» would come out on his imprint. Creative Sources followers will have no difficulty immersing themselves in this highly recommended release. François Couture (All Music Guide)

The rather obscure narrative of this excellent quartet is nicely showcased in about 32 minutes of live improvisation captured in France in 2003.
Charles and Denzler often outgrow their clarinet and saxophone during stratocumuli of humid pronouncements coping with gravity during an alternance of crescendos and silent mirages. The rhomboidal figure is completed by Werchowski's underlinings through a groundwork of sustained timbres and radical alterations, while Mariage's radioactive guitar hums and purrs without forgetting to launch electrostatic snaps every once in a while. The four musicians move slowly, pushing themselves just that necessary much for us to understand their position; the rest is useless explanation and it's then and there that you have to raise your antennas. Massimo Ricci (Touching Extremes)

Metz is derived from what I take to have been a May 2003 live performance by this quartet of French improvisers on clarinet (Charles), saxophones (Denzler), electric guitar (Mariage), and violin (Werchowski). Over the course of a single 32-minute track, the group elaborates a restless concordance from the ebb and flow of its members’ contributions of breathy exhalations, microtonal burrs, tinkling from below the guitar bridge, amplified explosions, ligneous cracks, and other products of extended instrumental techniques – plus the occasional descent into silence. At times the playing falls into passages of post-reductionist agitation of little variance, but in general the ingenious shifts in grain and texture, and the close co-operation displayed by the group, make this a good instance of collective improvisation in an advanced, if sometimes quite dense, style. The relatively short running time of the disc may cause a few raised eyebrows, but Metz is no less interesting and enjoyable than discs twice its length – and no-one involved in its release will make more than the most derisory sum of money from it – so why worry? Wayne Spencer (Paris Transatlantic)

About a year ago, I first reviewed a Creative Sources disc for Dusted and noted that improvised music would be nothing without local scenes and the labels dedicated to documenting them. That’s still true. But when people start to take notice, the next level is the formation of links with other scenes. The Lisbon-based label – run by Ernesto Rodrigues, an excellent improviser who plays on some of the label’s releases – has made that next step. Along with labels like Erstwhile, For4Ears, Confront, Meniscus, and Potlatch, this imprint is documenting some of the finest “lowercase” improvisation around and has become a label with a strong track record and a global focus. Their release schedule has really picked up of late too. In fact, they’ve just dropped a quintet of recordings featuring a fairly broad array of European improvisers. Many readers won’t be too familiar with the majority of the players. That deserves to change.
Metz brings together a fantastic group for a single, 32-minute improvisation recorded in a temple in the French city named in the title: clarinetist Xavier Charles (who some may have heard on the fabulous trio recording The Contest of Pleasures), tenor saxophonist Bertrand Denzler (a member of Momentum), electric guitarist Jean-Sébastien Mariage (who plays in Hubbub), and violinist Mathieu Werchowski (who has worked with British guitarist John Russell). The piece opens in a somewhat standard fashion, with breath noises mixing with ultra-high pizzicato. But thankfully, rather than a half-hour whoosh and hiss-fest, this slice is coherent, purposeful, and not nearly so placid as one might expect. For every slowly gathering wave of sound, there is a contentious aside: when Denzler and Charles begin to drift into chorale, Mariage issues forth some gnarly crackles or Werchowski some rude creaking (and there is a pretty stunning cloud of noise that gathers about 1/3 of the way through). This is not to suggest that group animosity is pervasive, or that things never get started; rather, these four players are smart enough not to get complacent, to let things develop and resolve too neatly. And it’s this resistance that, combined with their use of the temple dynamics, makes this recording both provocative and lovely. Things develop, they break down, they rest in silence, and proceed once more, yielding quite a rich feast for such a short duration. Both radical in its reserve and compelling in its beauty, Metz is one of the best in this batch.
[…] Taken as a whole, this quintet of discs is pretty satisfying. While some clearly work better than others, they give improv freaks some insight into what’s happening in some lesser-known European scenes. They also confirm the strength and identity of this excellent label. Jason Bivins (Dusted Magazine)

[…] “Metz” é um bom exemplo do que uma geração de improvisadores franceses, algures entre a afirmação e a maturidade, tem vindo a desenvolver nos últimos tempos. Trata-se de uma gravação captada ao vivo no Temple Neuf de Metz em Outubro de 2003.
“Metz” é uma sessão livremente improvisada cujo desenvolvimento se reveste de uma certa ordem, por oposição a uma ideia de anarquia e omnidireccionalidade acéfala com que por vezes nos deparamos neste tipo de estéticas.
Constituído por uma única faixa de 32 minutos, ainda que episodicamente dividida em fracções mais pequenas, “Metz” não é um disco longo. Os momentos iniciais caracterizam-se por uma fluência morosa e periclitante, como se os músicos ostentassem as cautelas próprias de quem atravessa sinuoso e ignoto caminho. Não surpreende por isso a rarefacção inicial, que com o avançar do tempo se vai adensando numa paisagem mais frondosa e concentrada, e que culmina, perto do final, com o estilhaçar da unidade entretanto construída.
Raras são as ocasiões em que se poderá dizer que este ou aquele elemento sobressai, tal é o compromisso de equipa que se estabelece. Exemplificativo disso mesmo é a prestação de Bertrand Denzler que, se inicialmente deixa transparecer algum apagamento, depois de uma audição mais atenta confirma, pelo contrário, que dificilmente poderia estar mais integrado na prossecução do fim comum. Concentrando-se na elaboração de um som cavo e invulgarmente sub-reptício, Denzler enleia-se de uma forma quase imperceptível numa teia tecida a quatro vozes, da qual se logra obter uma notável simbiose tímbrica, como se cada instrumento fosse a extensão do outro.
Seria injusto não fazer uma referência, mesmo que breve, à contribuição dos restantes músicos na criação deste som, nomeadamente a filigrana preciosista de Mariage, o intricado pizzicatto de Werchowski e a organicidade de Xavier Charles. No final, poder-se-á lamentar a relativa brevidade desta sessão, mas não deixa de estar aqui implícito um certo sentido weberniano, na medida em que não é necessário muito tempo para transmitir a essência da mensagem que se pretende exteriorizar.
A cena da livre improvisação francesa não será tão propalada quanto as de Londres, Berlim ou Viena, mas estas duas obras, ilustrativas do muito que por aí se tem feito, não irão certamente desiludir os amantes destas práticas. Aguardemos pois por novos episódios. João Aleluia (All Jazz)

Part of the wave of minimalistic improvisers who somehow manage to appropriate the mechanics of electronic timbres for acoustic instruments, this French group still affirm that small intervals, diminutive resonance, and near-static harmony can provide memorable music if you ignore the so-called proper way that instruments should sound.
[…] Denzler and Mariage are also featured on Metz (Creative Sources). So are Xavier Charles—on clarinet here, but who is often involved in dedicated electronica, playing vibrating surfaces, turntables and minidiscs—and violinist Mathieu Werchowski, whose experience encompasses electronica with tape manipulators Lionel Marchetti and Jérôme Noetinger and a pure acoustic trio with guitarist John Russell and accordionist Ute Völker
Perhaps because of this background, electroacoustic tendencies migrate onto the CD’s slightly more than half-hour single track. With concentration the sounds can be mesmerizing. At the same time the piece has enough structure to be a sonata or other formal composition.
Initially it builds up from intermittent reed buzzes and metallic baps that are mixed with bell-ringing guitar tones and violin textures. Variations arise following an extended period of aviary trills from Denzler, chalumeau-register buzzes from Charles, plus the scrapes of what could be an e-bow moving across fiddle strings. Mariage then begins tapping on his guitar strings with his palms and snapping them as well—gestures that bring out reedy snorts and flutter-tonguing from the woodwinds. As the theme is reshaped, compressed, organ-like timbres appear from the violinist, leading to an exchange of sul ponticello lines on his part and dark, fluttering breaths from the reedmen.
Midway through, silence is nudged with the faint intimation of reverb extended by abrasive ratcheting from the top portion of the guitar’s neck, until split-tone reed variations provide new variations on the theme with hummingbird-like warbling. Finally the piece reaches a climax of amp-related wheezy crackles, electronic hiss, intermittent string battering, and chromatic runs. As this happens, the clarinetist adds shrill reed vibrations and the tenor man glottal stops and shredded cries. Heightened sounds include thumping guitar picking and wiggling fiddle lines. A postlude of shattering reed cries mixed with accordion-like squeezes from the strings leads to a 20-second coda of barely heard near-silence.
Not jazz or perhaps even improv as we know it, Metz deserve concentrated examination by those open to tracing new currents in free playing. Ken Waxman (One Final Note)

[…] «Metz» é inesperadamente poético, para não dizer mesmo lírico, o que nos levaria para um âmbito mais padronizado do que aquele em que este outro disco se insere, juntando os préstimos de Xavier Charles, Bertrand Denzler, Jean-Sébastien Mariage e Matthieu Werchowski. Dois instrumentos de palheta, um clarinete (Charles deixou por uma vez de lado as suas “superfícies vibratórias”) e um saxofone tenor, mais uma guitarra eléctrica (com um Mariage particularmente comentativo, aliás) e um violino constroem texturas e mapas tímbricos com um minúcia e um sentido da proporção que vão sendo raros, tornando a trazer a questão da beleza para a música de hoje. Já não é a beleza de Beethoven, mas reconhecêmo-la, pois ainda se trata da mesma que os gregos antigos inventaram. Subvertida, pervertida, transformada, adaptada, mas íntegra. Rui Eduardo Paes (JL)

[…] Exemplaire de la démarche CS et de la radicalité à la française, METZ (CS 015 cd) est un beau set de 32:18 de concert avec Xavier Charles, ici à la clarinette, Bertrand Denzler au saxophone ténor, Jean-Sébastien Mariage à la guitare électrique et Matthieu Werchowski au violon. Ce sont presque les mânes d'AMM qui sont évoquées ici, tant le temps se resserre sur une urgence dilatée, une rage évaporée, un partage du maintenant - tout de suite qui s'étale dans l'infini. Metz est de la même trempe que Hubbub. On entend les anches pépier jusqu'au bord du silence, sans que nous puissions distinguer clarinette et sax ténor, emportées par le feedback vocalisé de Mariage. Un véritable échange se crée pour mettre en valeur le lyrisme de Werchowski, violoniste sensible et quelque peu introverti. C'est à la mesure de cette utopie qu'on goûte ensuite aux épanchements tour à tour minimalistes, purement sonores, post-réductionnistes ou lower-case qui fleurissent dans le sous-bois lusitanien des sourciers créateurs. […] Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg (Improjazz)

Enregistré par Jen-Luc Guionnet en Octobre 2003 lors d'un concert organisé par l'association Fragment à Metz, cette formation double le ténor de Denzler par la clarinette de Charles et la guitare de Mariage par le violon de Werchowski (ou bien le contraire, puisque je pars ici du duo "hubbu-bien") évoquant parfois une vielle a roue, des orgues ou le vent, un feu, un oiseau (identifications totalement projectives et sans aucune garantie d'authenticité), les musiciens bâtissent doucement une musique plutôt sereine par l'agglomération de timbres et de ce que j'aimerais appeler des harmoniques. Sans se soucier des systèmes harmoniques, le quatuor bricole, construit empiriquement, instinctivement (si ce mot avait en musique le moindre sens) une complétude momentanée. C'est cette recherche sans impatience, véritablement vivante et agissante, qui prend la place du développement temporel de la musique, les instruments se complètent, s'harmonisent s'enrichissent, surenchérissent parfois (entendre "chérissent"?) sans remplir ni raturer. Noël Tachet (Improjazz)

Ernesto Rodrigues publicou em 2004, na sua Creative Sources Recordings, METZ, pelo quarteto francês de Xavier Charles (clarinete), Bertrand Denzler (saxofone tenor), Jean-Sebastian Mariage (guitarra eléctrica) e Mathieu Werhowski (violino). "Metz" é uma peça musical gerada e criada num concerto em Temple Neuf, na cidade de Metz, França, a partir interacção espontânea deste extraordinário grupo de improvisadores. Dir-se-ia que os 32 minutos de duração contêm tudo o que de relevante o grupo teria para dizer entre silêncios e intervenções, numa sessão em que cada instante tem o seu significado próprio. O quarteto mantém os procedimentos constritos a uma gestualidade mínima e a uma toada geral de tranquilidade, ocasionalmente rompida por um ou outro pico dinâmico do clarinete de Charles ou do tenor de Denzler, para retomar a bonança dominante, sem pôr em causa a direcção e a coerência interna de uma obra que será tanto mais apreensível em toda a extensão e profundidade quanto mais o ouvinte se dispuser a dedicar-lhe em termos de atenção. Neste dispositivo é difícil (se não impossível, mas seguramente estulto) destacar um músico que seja, de entre os quatro que executam estas amenas e minuciosas vibrações de cordas e palhetas, jogos de timbres e texturas servidos por técnicas comuns e por outras que permitem ir para lá dos limites tradicionais, e cuja validade e sentido decorre justamente do trabalho em equipa. Nele, uma função pressupõe a outra e todas juntas laboram para uma finalidade comum, qual seja a de produzir um discurso homogéneo, direccionado e consequente. Bom exemplo da vitalidade da nova música improvisada francesa, que se vai progressivamente afirmando no contexto europeu. Eduardo Chagas (Jazz e Arredores)

Xavier Charles, Bertrand Denzler, Jean-Sébastien Mariage, Mathieu Werchowski : Metz (Creative Sources, 2004). C'est un plaisir renouvelé que de réécouter cette demi-heure de musique enregistrée par Jean-Luc Guionnet en octobre 2003 au Temple Neuf de Metz ! Tirant parti de l'acoustique réverbérante des lieux, clarinette, saxophone ténor, guitare électrique et violon poussent leurs séquences de jeu (que des pauses silencieuses organisent) avec une fine élégance : travail « dans le son » collectif, changements de plans et efflorescences aboutissent à un développement organique passionnant. Guillaume Tarche (Le Son du Grisli)