Review: Étienne Michelet – SKULL REVELATIONS


Rich and strange evocations here from Ètienne Michelet, with saxophone/clarinet contributions from Kim Soo Min splattered like paint globs into swirled basins of electronics, stammering drum patterns, pulsing chimes and guitar. The constituent materials were recorded in a small room over the course of two months, and while there’s a palpable air of extended confinement – steeped in the sort of fantastical, bounding energy that brews in mind kept restlessly indoors – the record also suggests something crafted on the spot, baked by the fires of instinct before the tempering inclinations of reason can have their say.

Some of the most alarming moments approach a sort of stampeding free jazz, of which “Rejoice As Lover” marks the triumphant peak – the woodwinds of Kim Soo Min scrabble like tangled kites, while drums hammer ecstatically, bouncing off the walls, gleeful rather than aggressive. These pieces alternate with mercurial electronic collage and melodious openness: as in “My Heart Is Wrung / The Teeth Of Soul”, where electronic loops shiver patiently alongside a subdued saxophone improvisation, or the melancholic fallen-petal-plucked-strings of “Faithful Love”. A poem during the closing track retroactively places the pieces prior in the context of epiphany, or the ecstasy of learning: grappling with the as-of-yet-unnamed, feeling the cognitive recalibrations that occur upon ingesting new information, perfectly enacted by instruments that seem to be constantly fidgeting into new constellations.

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