Natural Juices

Excellent set of live music from the trio of Christiane Bopp, Jean-Marc Foussat and Emmanuelle Parrenin on their Nature Still (FOU RECORDS FR-CD 40) album, released on Foussat’s label. Duane Keiser provided the Cezanne-esque cover painting of fruits, and the four track titles are puns (in English and French) on the “still life” theme.

French trombonist Bopp made a superb solo record Noyau De Lune for this label in 2018, applying her mutes to the instrument and pushing her singing voice through the brass tubes as well. Emmanuelle Parrenin, interestingly, made a 1977 album called Maison Rose, which Jennifer Hor reviewed in TSP issue 16, accompanying her own singing voice with the hurdy-gurdy, dulcimer, and spinet on what was described as a “French language folk music album”. Here, she sings and also plays assorted viols, indicating she has a taste for archaic musical instruments; and some of her sung contributions, with their ghosts of half-suggested melodies, do indeed inject a welcome note of the great “oral tradition” into what is otherwise abstract music.

As to Jean-Marc, he plays his Synthi AKS in a very delicate and understated mode, the better to accompany these unusual instrumentalists and their superb vocalising. There are moments on the 2nd track ‘Nature Live’ which create a fine frisson, non-specific vocal burbling and lip-trembling technique producing exquisite streams of sound in a way that doesn’t owe a great deal to the more traditional jazz-inflected techniques of Norma Winston or Maggie Nicols. The trio flourish and thrive particularly well on the long (22:43) track ‘Still Morte’, with plenty of deliberate and considered interactions between trombone and synth locking into respectful conversations, while the bowed viol (I assume) makes a keening noise like a lonely bird shivering in the cold. Halfway through this brooding piece, the mood turns to consider a darker and more doubtful purpose, and at length the human voices become as one with those of the instruments, generating a cloud of richly layered information.

The entire album evokes sad and melancholic emotions, yet also creates a space of compassion and comfort for the listener, a kind of emotional shelter. Live recordings made in concert and at home during 2018. Arrived 16th December 2020.