Inconsistent Sublime Phantoms Behaviour

Very much enjoying this lively improv set from the French group Danza Cosmos – 10 recent (2020) recordings to be found on Des Voix De Loin De Près (PETIT LABEL PL SON 025), a title which of course translates into a sentence about “voices from far and wide”.

This all-encompassing philosophy is reflected in the make-up of the group, and their diverse musical histories. Laurent Azivou (clarinet, voice) is a composer with a background in rock music, classical guitar, and dance orchestras; has a connection to a political activist group; and has done music in the context of dance, theatre, and cinema. All this because the music of Frank Zappa shocked him as a teenager and he realised all the exciting possibilities of looking outside the envelope. Then there’s Rodolphe Collange, providing memorable electronic sounds from his synth setup here; he’s a studio whizz conversant with sound art and music for cinema projects, and from his base in Studio de La Pierre Vive he’s an in-demand sound man for orchestras and classical music. He too comes from a rock music direction, yet his career has included electro-acoustic and musique concrète composition too.

Youssef Ghazzal, the bass player here, is a student of ethnic music and traditional Eastern European music, but found his way into free jazz and improvisation and currently plays with many improv combos and jazz orchestras. Heddy Boubaker – player of the electro-acoustic guitar – may be the lynchpin of the group and has been heard on this label by us before – interestingly, he moved to the guitar from the saxophone, and though known for years as an improviser (very often in duo situations) he has recently been moving towards more composed music. Together these four create a very rich mix of sounds, textures, and noises – their playing works well together, full of spontaneity and new ideas, and they’re capable of producing everything from a thick carpet of dense noises (‘Ces Fantômes Inconstants Déposaient…’) to some very nuanced, ghostly and spectral scattered sounds (‘Au Chateau D’Argol’). I’d love to know more about their methods, their collaborative plans, if any.

It’s great to hear music that isn’t trying to affect a mannered pose, or bleed out its own life through severe minimalist strictures, and instead Danza Cosmos offer us warmth, joy and life, fully living up to the “Cosmic Dance” of their name. From 31 May 2022.