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Jac Berrocal, David Fenech, Vincent Epplay: Antigravity

Image of JAC BERROCAL, DAVID FENECH, VINCENT EPPLAY - <i>ANTIGRAVITY</i> (BLACKESTCD011 CD) **PRE-ORDER**
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From the press release:
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Antigravity is a new trio album from legendary trumpeter Jac Berrocal and two fellow travellers in the French avant-garde, David Fenech and Vincent Epplay. A lugubrious mise-en-scène in which ice-cold outlaw jazz meets musique concrète, DIY whimsy and dubwise studio science, all watched over by the lost souls and hungry ghosts of rock ‘n roll. Born in 1946, Berrocal is the embodiment of saturnine, nicotine-stained Parisian cool, but he is also one of a kind: indeed, “trumpeter” is hardly an adequate epithet for this musician, poet and sometime film actor who came of age in the ‘70s Paris improv scene, where the boundaries between music, art and theatre were porous and begging to be breached. Inspired by bebop, chanson, free jazz, beat poetry, early rock ‘n roll and myriad Eastern influences, and with an iconoclastic, anything-goes approach to instrumentation and technique that would later align him with post-punk sensibilities, Berrocal blazed an eccentric and unstoppable trail across the underground throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, both solo and as part of the Catalogue group he co-founded. Now Berrocal has found the perfect foil in David Fenech and Vincent Epplay, two fearlessly inventive improvisers, composers and catalysts who create challenging, acutely modernist yet historically aware settings – wrought out of synthesis, guitars, computer processing, field recordings and unorthodox percussions – for Berrocal’s unmistakeable voice and breathtakingly lyrical horn sound to flourish. The trio’s first album together, Antigravity is a richly imagined universe combining original compositions and détourned standards. Berrocal revisits his own signature piece ‘Rock ‘n Roll Station’, which first appeared on his ’77 LP Paralleles; a barely recognisable interpretation of Talking Heads’ ‘The Overload’ pushes beyond the bush of ghosts into a fourth world dread-zone of stalking drum machine rhythms, humid electronics and jagged guitar phrasing, while ‘Where Flamingos Fly’ reroutes the Gil Evans Orchestra’s classic rendition through the seamiest back-streets of the 13th arrondissement. There, as on the trio’s reading of ‘Kinder Lieder’, the mood is romantic, but stark, isolationist: imagine Chet Baker falling through the glacial sound-world of early PiL or Scott Walker’s Climate of Hunter. Originals include the agitated Iberian psychedelia of ‘Spain’, and ‘Panic In Bali’, which begins in seemingly trad-jazz fashion only to swell into a cacophony of a gurgling electronics and fevered ‘Lonely Woman’ quotations. ‘Solaris’ is a swirling, suspenseful arabesque of whiplash guitars and Black Ark FX, Berrocal’s trumpet hitting deep blue notes while his vocals are sliced and diced and tossed into a yawning void of tape-delay – like Antigravity at large, the result is oblique, dissolving, forever out of reach. Despite the chilly, sometimes austere mood of the album, it is, ultimately, a deeply human and welcoming work, with a playfulness and sly humour pervading: see the anarchic cross-hatch of ‘Ife Layo’, or ‘L’essai des Suintes ou le bal des Futaies’, Berrocal’s poetic disquisition on the infinite variety of female genitalia. Mischief and misdirection are rife here, and fans of Officer!, Henry Cow and the ReR axis will find much to chew on. Play, as we know, is a serious business. Put another way, and to quote Berrocal entirely out of context, Antigravity is completely crazy, completely timeless, completely out. As its title suggests, the objective is nothing less than lift-off, weightlessness, a total unshackling from earth. Sunglasses on, collar up, let’s go.”
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Antigravity is out April 27 on Blackest Ever Black; check out a playlist of four tracks below.
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About foamhands

My name is Michael Dix; I'm a decade or so past being down with the kids, but to me new music never gets old. Apparently I like music that sounds like faulty kitchen appliances and ritual slaughter; really I just like what I like, whether that happens to be indie, pop, punk, hip hop, metal, electronica, Afrobeat or jazz. Follow me on Twitter @FoamHandsBlog to receive notifications of new posts and the occasional random brain-fart, and please share links wherever you can. Enjoy!

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