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Chardeau: Résilience

Once you have been listening to music from different parts of the world for some time, you come to realise that each particular area has its own distinctive sound. The example that most native English speakers will be aware of is the difference between English and American bands: it is, in general, quite possible to distinguish "blind" from listening to some of their music which side of the Atlantic they come from. Other notable identities that I've come to appreciate are those of Italian, Swedish, Polish and, of course, French bands. This latter identity has been ingrained in me from childhood because my family used to listen to a fair bit of French popular music: I remember being fond of (well, still am) the chanteuse Mireille Mathieu. Trying to describe to you in words what the characteristics of this French music are is more difficult of course – though you'll find plenty of evidence if you listen to Chardeau's new album Résilience. I'd say that French music was marked by an eclecticism in composition and orchestration, with a particular fearlessness of incorporating jazzy elements; lyrics will, as on Chardeau's album, tend to be in French.

Résilience has a very French "feel", covering a range of styles over the course of its 80 minutes. It's a long album – and, really, that's the only criticism one could level at it – that contains a mix of instrumental and, predominantly, sung tracks (4 instrumental, 14 sung). I have a sense, from the little French that I can understand, that the lyrics are meaningful and worthy of being understood; unfortunately this is one of the things that one sometimes loses when listening to lyrics in other languages. French speakers or those learning the language will find additional elements to enjoy in the album.

Genre-wise, it visits a few territories but, overall, I'd put it into art-pop, or art-rock.

A light jazziness is the predominant musical "flavour", mainly courtesy of some gorgeous piano work from Shelton Berg. The sung compositions "Allo", "Essais", "Protest Song" and "Superstition Superproduction (Bbajj)" feature the jazziest vibe, but my personal favourite is the album opener, an instrumental that doesn't feature Berg on the piano, instead relying on some excellent trumpet (Lee Thornburg), trombone (Nick Lane) and saxophone (Larry Klimax) work for its effect. Whereas the piano features on nearly every other song, the same cannot be said for the brass instruments and the sax, some of which feature – again to good effect – on "Essais", "Regardez Moi" and "L'amour au Bord de L'adour".

Throughout, the album is strong melodically, with "Bebe Lune" and "Cyclique" being a highlight; the instrumental "Cyclique" building on "Bebe Lune"'s melancholic feel very successfully. Jerry Goodman's violin brings great beauty to these compositions, especially when the music "opens up" in "Cyclique". "Illusions" is another very pretty instrumental, adding cello (Alexis Baucher) to the piano and violin of "Cyclique".

You can probably already tell form these descriptions that the range of instrumentation used is significant and varied; the textures of the music become one of the plus points. There are even more than I've mentioned so far: Hammond, Fender Rhodes, flute, sitar, as well as the usual rock instruments of guitar, bass and drums. "Rock" does feature too; principally on "Ado" and the long blues rock number, "Asphalte Jungle". However, it is indicative of the compositional style that, even in this blues rock style, which could become quite heavy, the guitar of Chris Pinnock is kept fairly low down in the mix, so the blues feels quite restrained.

Chardeau's singing is good and, like the music and instrumentation, varied in style, ranging from nearly spoken through sing-speak to a more conventional legato form; the style of the vocal suited to the music.

Essentially, these compositions are excellent and, listening to them individually on the radio or on ipod shuffle, music lovers would invariably enjoy any of them. As an album listening experience, however, there is more flitting between styles over a very long playing time than most people would tolerate: the rating reflects this fact.

Track Listing:-
1) Recreation (3:42)
2) Allo (4:18)
3) Lumbago Lambada (4:29)
4) Ado (4:51)
5) Essais (4:00)
6) Bebe Lune (5:24)
7) Cyclique (3:38)
8) Galėre Galėre (3:39)
9) Regardez Moi (3:17)
10) Miette (1:44)
11) L'amour au Bord de L'adour (5:26)
12) Protest Song (3:24)
13) Superstition Superproduction (Bbajj) (4:39)
14) Illusions (3:36)
15) Questions (Not Now) (5:48)
16) Asphalte Jungle (7:25)
17) Depression Dans un Jardin Landáis (5:51)
18) Intermezzo (4:21)

Added: October 26th 2010
Reviewer: Alex Torres
Related Link: Chardeau's MySpace
Hits: 1770
Language: english

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