oort |cs185








































When I mentioned magic about Creative Sources records, this is a perfect case. The soundworld of David Chiesa (doublebass?) and Jean-Sébastien Mariage (guitarist with Chamæleo Vulgaris and Hubbub) is extremely stripped down, populated with silence that invites you to refocus your listening. Spartan, but far from boring: each intervention becomes unusually important, drawing ties with what comes before and after. In short, a demanding yet oh so rewarding listen, the kind of record that keeps me on the edge of my seat. François Couture (Monsieur Délire)

Tired and lethargic tonight, and so have spent most of the evening horizontal, while listening to a CD that took me a little by surprise when I heard it for the first time a few days back and sounds just the kind of music I need on an evening like this as it plays right now. the disc in question is a new release on Creative Sources by the French duo of Jean-Sebastien Mariage (guitar) and David Chiesa (double bass) named Oort. The Oort cloud is apparently the name given to a particular cluster of comets, and so the four tracks here are each named after a particular comet themselves.

I have enjoyed the music made by both of these musicians before, but have somehow not really focussed on their individual work as each has been part of bigger groups I have listened to, with Mariage notably the guitarist in Hubbub. The four tracks here though, and in particular the opening thirteen minute Kirch’s Comet are really very beautiful indeed. Mariage plays either electric guitar or a very clear and warm, closely miked acoustic, and Chiesa just plays bass with no treatments or trickery. The music they make though is very slow, and on the opening piece very sparse, little clusters of softly chiming guitar notes, bass thuds and short scurrying sounds from one or the other. The sensation is of stars on a clear the night sky, some bright and glowing, others distantly murky, but all carefully placed with a seemingly deliberate sense of arrangement to them. This piece, like all four are completely improvised, but there is a very nice sense of composed delicacy and restraint here. I am reminded of Sugimoto from a decade ago, perhaps his duos with Annette Krebs because of the sense of space and the juxtaposition of light and heavy sounds, but certainly that feel of stripped down, simplified blues mixing with other more abstract musical styles.

Oort is a very simple album, a set of recordings of two musicians listening to each other very carefully and then presenting understated, unadorned sounds that combine together to make the more complicated, but deceptively simple compositions presented here. The next three tracks use less silence- the slowness, the feeling of careful placement remains but the gaps between sounds reduce and the music flows easier as Chiesa adds bowed sounds to the fray and Mariage occasionally moves from the achingly beautiful plucked chimes to more percussively blunt struck sounds, but even at the music’s most active it is anything but busy. It all feels very fragile, and I am reminded of a Calder sculpture, simple shapes revolving very slowly, their relationship to each other changing slightly, shadows cast across one another but somehow remaining spaced apart, working with one another yet maintaining a distance.

This CD really grabbed me as a very assured, considered work. I have no idea how much the duo have played together before but they sound perfectly in tune with one another, neither rocking the boat and yet both shaping and directing the music, the musical discussions vibrant and fluent, yet somehow never argumentative or aggressive. This is a CD likely to escape under the radar, but I encourage anyone with a taste for quiet, contemplative acoustic improvisation to give Oort a listen. With the lights down low and with a glass of something to hand on a quiet rainy night like this one it hits the spot for me perfectly. Richard Pinnell (The Watchful Ear)

Jean-Sébastien Mariage (guitariste échappé d’Hubbub) et David Chiesa (contrebassiste entendu auprès de Jean-Luc Guionnet, Xavier Charles ou Daunik Lazro) s’essayaient récemment au dialogue improvisé pour le baptiser ensuite Oort.
Sur cet Oort en cinq temps, trouver un concours de gestes mesurés conclu sur commande d’un archet grave composant une jolie pièce (la première) d’indécisions en partage. D’autres discrétions agissent ensuite : cordes de guitares effleurées quand la contrebasse s’adonne aux circonvolutions ou accoucheuses d’arpèges quand plus
épaisses qu’elles chantent leur satisfaction d’être fouettées. En filigrane, il y a enfin ce soupçon de folk qui donne à Oort une autre saveur encore. Guillaume Belhomme (Le Son du Grisli)

When I heard this record without checking anything related to the release, neither title and references nor musician's biography, one of the first thing I thought the players could have developed an addiction from Ballance, a videogame issued by Atari, belonging to that kind of games causing anxiety especially if you try to play it when you're drunk or differently gone. It's quite easy to imagine it: you just control a ball you have to lead till some checking points placed along difficult pathways hanging over the clouds, possibly avoiding the ball's falling in the void, but the music which keep company with the gamer over the thirteen levels is so outstanding that it has a primary role for the success of the game even if it's quite simple. The "distant" acoustic tones, some doublebass gong-like strokes and even the sounds of some wooden ball rolling over some surface I've listened in the first track "Kirch's comet" - referrinf to the so-called Newton's comet, the first one discovered by telescope - activated such a memory, but the style reprises such an idea here and there all over the recording, whereas this French duet made up of the doublebass player David Chiesa and the guitarist Jean-Sebastien Mariage (who also plays guitar with Hubbub and Chamaeleo Vulgaris) pointed at the remote region of the Oort cloud, an hyphotesized spherical area considered by some astronomers as the cosmic area from where the comets start their route crossing so many times the area of Solar system as a source for the inspiration of their style based on acoustic improvisations. They look like following their route, able to kindle amazement and apprehension, with acoustic sparks and a way of performing fitting the matter: taps, raps and flaps on guitar or doublebass chords have been placed in intervals, which are wide enough to give the listener the possibility to hear the vibes and the dying frequencies they emit till the moment the wave oscillations gradually turning flat, what looks like a sonic transfiguration of a comet's tide, while the instuments seem to echo their halo and the fascinating comas they trace in the sky. A record which is going to be appreciated even by those listeners who like contemplative stuff, even if they don't really cope with improv music. Vito Camarretta (Chain DLK)

Double bass and electric guitar, doing a reasonable rendition of the cloud of debris between Mars and Jupiter. Spacious, and scrape-filled (much arco bass and, I suspect, bowed guitar)--I would have thought I'd like it more than I do. Something is lacking for this listener, however and I'm guessing that, however extenuated the sounds, they seem to relate back to the kind of post-serial gesturalism that often makes me itch. Less a concern with pure sound than with flourishes of extended technique, that is. Not bad but not enough air for me. Brian Olewnick (Just Outside)

David Chiesa est un contrebassiste français très axé sur l'improvisation interdisciplinaire (danse, vidéo, poésie, etc.),et qui collabore depuis plusieurs années avec Jean-Luc Guionnet, Frédéric Blondy et Michel Doneda. Autre compagnon de longue date que l'on retrouve sur ce duo acoustique publié par Creative Sources, le guitariste Jean-Sébastien Mariage, connu pour sa participation à diverses formations hexagonales de renom, telles Hubbub et X-Brane.

Oort, un titre énigmatique pour une pochette qui ne l'est pas moins, évoquant un certain nuage de comètes aux frontières du système solaire. La musique est-elle censée peindre ce phénomène astronomique? Chiesa a-t-il tenté ici l'ultime confrontation des disciplines en tentant de dialoguer avec l'observation astronomique? Le nuage d'Oort a-t-il inspiré la musique de ce duo, à moins qu'il n'ait été nommé ainsi a posteriori? Autant de questions qui resteront sans réponses tranchées de ma part...

Au fil de ces cinq pièces en tout cas, on est vite aspiré par la douceur du dialogue, sa subtilité et sa sensibilité. Le volume est généralement assez bas, même si les attaques et les timbres ne manquent pas d'intensité parfois. Si le volume change peu, la densité elle, et l'espace sonore avec, est constamment remaniée durant cette heure poétique. Les cordes entretiennent un dialogue où l'écoute et l'attention sont constamment de la partie, un dialogue qui produit des atmosphères très minimales (Mariage n'utilise parfois que deux notes durant plusieurs minutes), où le silence espace des interventions précises et d'autant plus intenses qu'elles se font constamment attendre. L'univers sonique prend parfois du volume surtout grâce à Chiesa, notamment lorsqu'il produit d'étonnantes harmoniques éthérées où lorsqu'il nous plonge dans un bourdon aux double-cordes exceptionnellement proche d'un accord d'accordéon. Et malgré ces variations d'intensité et de densité, ce sont bien les interventions espacées, précises et minimales de Mariage qui maintiennent une cohésion linéaire à travers cette suite d'improvisations poétiques, quelque peu mélodiques, et d'apparences assez pures et éthérées.

Peut-être est-ce ce silence qui évoque le nuage d'Oort, silence qui par le vide auquel il est associé peut dénoter les trous noirs, mais également l'infinité de l'univers, tout comme la tension qu'il produit (tension qui est également le fruit du dialogue où il n'y a que de rares fusions) peut évoquer la frontière que le nuage d'Oort marque entre le système solaire et le reste du cosmos. Quoiqu'il en soit, Oort parvient à maintenir une tension linéaire et mélodique à travers l'ensemble de la suite malgré les différents univers variés et hétérogènes qui se déploient au fil des pièces, multitude sonique qui contraste d'ailleurs avec l’homogénéité instrumentale. Un très beau duo! hjulien (ImprovSphere)

Cela commence de façon assez commune pour qui connaît ou veut ignorer les dérives minimalistes et sonores radicales documentées par Creative Sources et ces micro-labels dont l’un a même été intitulé Absurd. Deux notes égrenées avec distance à la guitare et un ou deux baaoouum graves entre deux respirations. Quelques sons presque seuls, répétés ou alternés, dont des frappes sur la touche de la contrebasse, qui font survivre le silence durant une douzaine de minutes. Et pourtant dès le deuxième morceau, sarabat’s comet, le bourdonnement en grattouillis d’une corde de la guitare soutient des sons d’archet qui dégagent un beau parfum microtonal, une sonorité singulière que je n’avais pas encore expérimentée. Des paires de glissandi descendants ou montants s’élèvent avec mystère et s’animent soudainement sans interrompre le flux d’un lyrisme secret. Au moment où la guitare est jouée à l’archet, une douzaine de minutes se sont écoulées comme dans un conte. Il est question de comètes dans les titres et les ellipses croisées du dessin de la pochette en évoquent les trajectoires. Comète : enn anglais to commit, se commettre signifie s’engager. S’engager, c’est entrer, proposer et s’y tenir. Une expérimentation intentionnalisée sur les vertus du silence et du temps contenus dans les gestes des musiciens. Une réflexion sur la vie des sons et leurs trajectoires vécues ou supposées. Une influence de l’art conceptuel abstrait dans l'univers de la musique instantanée par des improvisateurs expérimentés. Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg (Orynx-improv'andsounds)

From the time of Jim Hall’s meeting with Red Mitchell in the 1970s and a contemporaneous duo involving Joe Pass and Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, guitar-double bass improvisation has been a favored, if challenging format. The situation becomes even more intricate however when the song form and familiar standards are jettisoned in favor of pure improvisation. Two French duos demonstrate how this can be accomplished on these CDs, yet such is the breath of Free Music that the meetings between bassist David Chiesa and guitarist Jean Sebastien Mariage on one hand and bassist Joëlle Léandre and guitarist Serge Teyssot-Gay on the other are the yin and yang of such associations.
Since Mariage is mostly involved with minimalist ensembles such as Hubbub plus dance and theatre groups, and Chisea has made his name with solo performances, playing with the likes of experimental saxophonist Michel Doneda, plus dancers and poets, the emphasis on Oort is on long silences and microtonalism. However when Léandre, one of the world’s most flamboyant bass soloists who has matched wits with hundreds of committed players is captured in concert with Teyssot-Gay, guitarist of French rock group Noir Désir, the result is much more than Chiesa-Mariage writ large. As hushed and understated as the other duo’s five tracks may be; Léandre-Teyssot-Gay almost literally kick out the jams, embellishing the live tessitura with unselfconscious drama, transforming their seven untitled tracks into near visual performances.
As early as the first track of Trans, distorted electronic pulsing from the guitarist meets brutal tremolo bow motions from the bassist, and this intensity continues nearly unabated for the rest of the disc. Should there be sequences during which Léandre and Teyssot-Gay begin a moderated downturn as pressure discharge, that realizations never dissipate enough to approximate the sounds of Oort. More commonly Léandre parries with meticulously timed stops, below the bridge strums or wood-vibrating sul tasto runs and is met by thrusts from Teyssot-Gay that take the form of slurred fingering, shimmering delay or friction-encumbered chording, Or the roles are reversed.
Should be connections become too amorphous or start dragging, then Léandre begins vocalizing with studied theatricism, encompassing Amerindian-styled chanting, crone-like cackling, bel canto warbles and forays into soprano lyricism – if the diva’s performance was taking place in a padded cell. All the while the guitarist expands and diminishes his volume with pedal and knob effects; strumming, slurring and sliding loops and licks. Fortissimo his climatic guitar-hero-like runs may be parodist, but they perfectly complement both Léandre’s alternating yowling soprano and Bedlam-styled mumbling as she snap, rubs and crunches stentorian strokes.
Almost like a black and white silent film when compared to Trans’ Technicolor, surround-sound blockbuster, Chiesa and Mariage distinguish themselves and their session by limiting it to meticulously positioned small gestures with plenty of breathing room – and with all tracks permeated by a quivering drone. With nods to table-top guitarists, Mariage appears to strike his strings with hammers and the heels of his hands. In contrast, Chiesa’s rubbed string squeals can take on saxophone blowing qualities. Other times themes move from chromatic expressionism to a pseudo-folk-primitism one would expect from hillbilly pickers like Dock Boggs.
More generic, tracks such as “Sarabat’s Comet” and “Chéseaux’s Comet” identify the minimalist futurism suggested by other interactions. In the former as the bassist drags out extended backing stops, the guitarist steps forward with bravura vibrating, likely created by e-bow pressure on the strings. As Mariage’s bent-note strategy works its way toward Chiesa, the bassist counters with scrubbed and angled multiphonics. On the subsequent “Chéseaux’s Comet” any hints of lyricism from the guitarist’s harpsichord-like licks are stripped away with dagger-sharp string snaps and tremolo wood smacks as static beats appear and evaporate. Staccato twangs and thumps finally culminate in repeated strokes from Chiesa. Eventually Mariage uses thrusting pressure against the fret board and neck respectively to produce usual timbres that couple with the existing drones.
Achieving a futuristic extension of bass-guitar duets is the triumphant result of both these unique session. Ken Waxman (JazzWord)