Nico Chkifi & Julien Tassin - Song offerings

Nico Chkifi & Julien Tassin - Song offerings


Ramble Records

I've always thought the combination of guitar and drums has huge potential but it's quite a rare beast - "All about jazz" even has an article headed; "Is there really only one guitar and drums duo album in jazz history?"

(In case you're wondering, there are great examples featuring Phil Robson, Bill Frisell and Jim Hall amongst others.)

"Song offerings" is a really enjoyable album; Julien Tassin and Nico Chkifi are both inventive improvisers and there is a strong flavour of free improvisation, but they are also composers. This shows in the distinctive sound and musical content of each track here, full of inventive ideas which never outstay their welcome.

"Cactus road" kicks off the album with a Spaghetti Western feel, brushed drums and a richly squeezed guitar sound, with a slight hint of Bill Frisell. Rich but mysterious chords keep things moving in new directions. Next comes "Dreams flow" with slow attack guitar contrasted with rattling drums, producing an almost Brechtian martial feel.

The aptly titled "How many sounds can you hear all at once?" offers a kaleidoscope of sounds from the drum rims plus pointillistic guitar sounds, reminding me of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble with John Stevens and Derek Bailey. "Searcher" is a stunning track developing buzzing, sliding and mechanical noises on guitar, with heavy echo effects which Tassin can suddenly mute. The drums sound rather like Mitch Mitchell being given a crack at free improvisation - overall a bit of a classic!

"Everyone is a creator" combines muted clicks on drumkit with more bendy chords and twangy fades on guitar. The range of tone colours on both instruments is both orchestral and expressive; soft beaters on drums, distorted loopy bass from the guitar and, on final track "Eternal", bouncing drumsticks, rattling metal and anxious bongos.

A very fine album from these two Belgium based musicians, revealing more with each listen.

© Stephen Godsall

Julien Tassin  - guitars
Nico Chkifi  - drums


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