Duo Lalisse/Weirich - Courts métrages

Duo Lalisse/Weirich - Courts métrages


Studio Manuel

I put this album on after a hard day and immediately found myself smiling and mesmerised by the music. It's the first duo project by pianist Sébastien Lalisse and guitarist Thomas Weirich.

Although both use some electronics, the prevailing sound is acoustic piano combined with clean electric guitar. This is post-modern jazz, happy to show influences like The Doors, Radiohead, Ravel, Debussy, Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk and many more recent musicians. Weirich's interests in Gypsy jazz, noise and blues are also finely integrated. That doesn't mean the music is cluttered; both players demonstrate the importance of spaces between notes. Their approach is to strip things back to basics, simple but effective compositions which are developed into full pieces by improvisation. And they know when to stop; five of the eleven tracks clock in at less than 2.30.

Album opener "Le Camp de l'Eternal" is a slow piano theme with lush Strayhorn influenced harmony. Guitar provides a simple repeated note pulse at first, building the texture with damped chords then breaking into gently squeezed solo. It sounds spontaneous and relaxed but there are no wasted notes and it's immediately memorable.

"Esprits vagabonds" is quite a contrast, percussive sounds on both guitar and prepared piano sounding like free improvisation until vocal samples with heavy vibrato create a harmonic structure and a Mellotron vibe.

"E Skyzo" uses the time-honoured foundation of repeated bottom E notes on guitar for 8 minutes plus without ever sounding repetitive; like John Lee Hooker these musicians can explore the full emotional range of the blues without departing from one root note! It's slow and moody at first, with mystery chords and zither effects on the piano, guitar swooping and bending. The harmonies are gradually stretched and extended, spiralling upwards in minor third intervals then adding grit with phrygian modes for the piano solo.

"Rue bain" is more abstract, sustained string chords which again sound like Mellotron, echo effected piano runs contrast with high weaselings and low rumblings from guitar. The virtual Mellotron makes a third appearance on "La part des anges", with trembling flute lines, the guitar staying in Fred Frith/Derek Bailey territory while piano plays solemn modal sequences; three contrasting layers which somehow work brilliantly together.

Peace returns for "Presences anciennes", a skeletal Satie style piano piece decorated with tremolando guitar lines fading in and out. "Prelude" is a riot of angular Monk influenced lines and syncopation, ragtime piano discords and very fast guitar picking, which leads swiftly into "Blues for Pat" which achieves a Modern Jazz Quartet tightness, unison and parallel harmony lines combining guitar and piano, a swing feel and walking bass for the first time on the album.

Album closer "Lovely" offers strummed minor guitar chords in 5/4 time, another dreamy and luscious chords sequence and piano cadences which develop into tunes.

This manages to be both one of the most varied albums I've heard this year and one of the most unified. Lalisse and Weirich share composer duties and add the improvisational fire to create inspired ideas in real time - a truly uplifting set.

© Stephen Godsall

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