Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Review: Jean-Jacques Toussaint - From Tiemko To Travelling (2009, Musea)
Jean Jacques Toussaint is the keyboards and bass player for Tiemko, a French instrumental prog-rock group. This helps explain part of the name of this album. At first I though the second part, Travelling, referred to a second French prog-rock group called Travelling (playing in the Canterbury style), however it appears not to be the case.
There is a note in the booklet saying in French: “Travelling: a path that leads nowhere, since nowhere is still the most mysterious place there is”.
In this album Jean-Jacques plays the keyboards, guitar, contrabass and does programming. He has a wide array of musicians playing along with him in the different pieces on instruments like guitar, saxophone, trumpet, accordion, trombone, violin, drums and tablas. The album was released through the French prog-rock label, Musea in 2009.
This is an instrumental album and the variety here is in the particular style of each track; from pensive, meditative moments ('Ballade Sur Un Nuage') to jazzy and avant-rock tunes ('Malthus', which seems to draw inspiration from Miriodor-like bands and style), to dark and sinister movements ('Passage', with a powerful and driving bass line – apparenty played by keys; this track sounds at times Univers Zero-inspired), chamber music ('Petite Symphonie Mecanique'; again reminding me a bit of Univers Zero, Present and their ilk).
The album seems almost like a compilation of sorts, as if offering us the best tracks of a long musical journey of a musician. There is more, of course, throughout the course of this 13 track long album, much to enjoy and concentrate on as themusic unravels.
One track that stand out in particular for me is 'American Gang' which sounds like an amalgam of jazz, rock and ambient and is actually too short and could have benefited from an extension in which more exploration could have been done. Another interesting track is the electronics-infused 'Cartoune' which sounds like a frenzied adventure inside the electric circuits of an old desktop computer. It is nicely balanced between the keyboards effects and the electric guitar work that act together to achieve an odd sounding piece (I mean that in a good way).
'Orient' is a more delicate piece, with a prominent bass and pleasant supporting keyboards; this sounds like a more “typical” prog-rock piece, with a jazzy flavour. The use of tablas adds a special aroma to the overall sound here, a nice touch that spices up the atmosphere.
If you’re into an eclectic instrumental adventure and you like the wide array of styles/bands mentioned above, I recommend giving this a listen. With a running time of 63 minutes, you should find several of these tunes to your liking.
Available on iTunes and Amazon.