l’A Neuve: violin-percussion duo creating a highly textured if austere music

Anouck Genthon & David Meier, l’A Neuve, Switzerland, Wide Ear Records, WER068 limited edition CD (2022)

Both Anouck Genthon and David Meier come with very impressive music pedigrees, Genthon being both a violinist and an ethnomusicologist who has studied Tuareg music traditions (and published a book “Tuareg Music: From political symbolism to aesthetic singularisation” in 2012), and drummer Meier being involved in various groups and collaborations going back to 2005 at least when he first co-founded the experimental rock / brutal rock / prog / jazz fusion trio Schnellertollermeier. On this album, which appears to be their first album together as far as I can find out, Genthon and Meier pursue their respective musical paths as improvisers, Meier concentrating on using the bass drum as resonator and amplifier of various found objects and Genthon playing on a single-stringed Tuareg instrument. Over eight tracks, Genthon and Meier’s contrasting approaches result in a highly textured music at once busy and sparse in style, often filled with tension and sometimes even quite eerie and mysterious.

The tracks are not long but their nature does demand quite deep listening and as a result you are plunged straight away into the austere world created by the two artists. Much of the time the two are scrabbling away together, and that can get a bit tiresome as the album continues. A couple of tracks though, notably “Deuve” and “Am​ô​naz”, stand out from the others, “Deuve” with its impossibly shrill and unnerving violin sounds and “Amônaz” for its near-industrial ambience. The rest of the album is not bad but my feeling is that audiences would find this work more impressive if all the performances had been filmed so that the process of improvising and creating the music can be seen as well. Quite often when you only hear the results of improvisation, as on an album, you are only experiencing half or even less than half of the performance which is as much about the process of improvising and creation, and the effort that goes into this creation, as it is about the music itself. Even so, the music here does seem to exist in its own particular and quite intimate if spare world.

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