Parisian player Léo Dupleix is fast becoming a man to watch, if he stands still enough for anyone to catch him at it…we’ve been impressed by his approach to the long-form near-silent highly challenging compositional thing with records like Two Compositions For Mixed Sources and Precess Series #1, but just as we thought we had him pegged as a mad scientist type trying to fill the shoes of Pierre Boulez, the ‘Carry Box’ tape surfaced from Spina! Rec where our man Léo did a laptop turn with guitarist Lauri Hyvärinen, quietly breaking all the rules associated with such pairings as they did so. Turns out Dupleix also plays in a trio called Tandaapushi, whose second album Borromean Rings (JVTLANDT JVT0018) is with us today (follow up to 2015’s Fire Disposal which was a hit with the Aquarius Records shop in San Francisco). Laurens Smet from Belgium is the bassist, Louis Evrard drummer and guitarist, while Dupleix makes yet more concessions to audience pleasure by playing the electric piano and pianet. But he also whines out some feedback from his mixing desk, and has amplified objects, so I guess it proves you can’t take the avant-garde dispositions out of the man.
While previous Dupleix exploits have flattened us (and beguiled us) with their considerable duration, Borromean Rings is concise – a short blast of vitamin B, lasting just 32 mins; 3-4 minute tunes are sandwiched either side of the 15-minute centrepiece. At first spin, this music has superficial resemblance to jazz-rock and fusion records of the 1970s we love so well, particularly in the sound of the electric piano (kind of a more severe, less eager-to-please Joe Zawinul) and the drumming (a less showoffy version of Billy Cobham). But listen close and the underlying minimalism is still there, in the lack of ego-tripping firework displays and the close attention paid to taut arrangements and repeated phrases. To put it more plainly, the trio are locked into an electronic version of a Steve Reich figure, wedded to precise rhythms that owe more to UK post-punk lean-mean snarlings than to lush 1970s post-Bitches Brew albums.
The attractive moire patterns on the cover merely confirm, in my eyes, the abstract-art leanings of this music, as if the best of Bridget Riley’s mesmeric patterns were set to a groove. A superb compacted killer of a record, this little beast just seethes with directed energy. (07/11/2017).