Champignon Flamme – Gilles Poizat (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

And there was I thinking that it was only Grasslands that combined a love of making exploratory and innovative music with a real-life career in ecology and the environment. You have to admit that it is a pretty small cross-over point on any Venn Diagram that you care to create. But Gilles Poizat lives a similar double life, one where the greenery and grandeur of the natural world spill over into sonic creations.

Although he has a string of albums behind him, both collaborating with Catherine Hershey (Rev Galen) and Mazalda and as a solo songwriter, Champignon Flamme marks his first purely instrumental outing. And what a brilliant and beguiling affair it is.

The album is based on his main instrument, the trumpet, and experimental meanderings across the sonic range and tonal delights of the modular synthesizer. Partly improvised, the trumpet sets up an initial sound to act as a springboard and this then starts the sonic ball rolling, modulating, repeating and evolving, generally in random and unexpected ways. The trumpet sometimes remains the focal point and just as readily disappears under the sea of effects which it has created, leaving just the consequences of its musical actions as evidence that it was ever there.

The results are beguiling and odd, random and free-form, for the most part, a live experience captured as it happened in the studio. In it, you can hear musings on nature and life, of intimate rituals and big questions and, like any music that is this experimental and free-wheeling, it is as much about the questions that the listener asks of themselves as those directly suggested by the artist.

As strange as it is hypnotic.

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