Originally self released in 2006 by the Chicago based collective known as The CJ Boyd Sexxtet, Fleur du Mal was re-released and given a new mix, as well as artwork by US based Beta-lactam Ring Records. The band is comprised of a revolving cast of musicians dedicated to exploring the connections between music and sexuality. After listening to these three lengthy compositions I confess to not being entirely sure how this connection comes together (although apparently they have a particular fondness for performing in the buff), but these are definitely some righteous and all together different sounding instrumental jams than what I'm normally accustomed to.
This particular configuration features ten musicians in addition to Boyd himself (who handles the bass duties- acoustic, electric and double). And the music is an interesting combination of ambient chamber music with indie rock sensibilities. These compositions which take their time to fully unfold and develop are centered on Boyd's hypnotic, elastic bass lines, sparse percussive elements and a quartet of female cello players who play some absolutely beautiful, and yes sensual sounding passages.
"At The End Of Breath" begins with the resonating harmonics of a singing bowl, which is a traditional instrument found in the far East regions of Nepal and Tibet. Boyd's restrained bass lines enter the fray ever so delicately as carefully selected piano notes and the sounds of the cellos really begin to elevate the track and give it its wings. And that only covers the first six or seven minutes of what is an absolutely sublime journey which clocks in at almost twenty minutes. Time will stand still and you'll find yourself completely mesmerized by the majestic qualities of this track. "Here's To Thanatos" ( a reference perhaps to the personification of death in Greek mythology) continues the journey as Boyd's bass work steps more to the forefront with a very interesting 'solo' type section in the middle. While the song goes through a few different changes, it never loses its cohesive flow. The second half of the track places the emphasis back on the cellos, with piano and trumpet playing a supporting role to ride the song out. The final composition "And Indeed There Will Be Time" commences with more of an upbeat slant as CJ's pulsating lead bass work leads the way overtop the sharp, bowed cello playing and group chanting. If there's a weak link on this disc however, this would be the track.
There you have it, three compositions adding up to almost sixty minutes of compelling and thought provoking music. If you're looking for something a little outside the box as far as an overall listening experience goes I don't think Fleur du Mal will disappoint. In fact it may even stand alone on your CD shelf as something truly unique and different.
1) At The End Of Breath
2) Here's To Thanatos
3) And Indeed There Will Be Time