More songs about hu­man-squid hy­brids, Stras­bourg Zappa style.

Prog - - The Musical Box - SS

If you’ve ever won­dered about the process of ex­tract­ing rab­bit sex­ual en­ergy or pon­dered upon the ex­is­ten­tial threat to the planet from a weapon of mass de­struc­tion known as Neg­a­tive Toe, then the sec­ond al­bum by this Stras­bourg ensemble has the an­swers. Away from the dotty sci-fi nar­ra­tive, a largely in­stru­men­tal al­bum is pep­pered with sup­ple brass, sin­u­ous wood­wind, flut­ter­ings of harp, trick­ling tuned per­cus­sion and shards of crack­ing skronk-hued gui­tars that all rub up against shift­ing tempo and tot­ter­ing bar lengths. The solo­ing that squeezes out from within the struc­tured set­ting is en­gag­ing, but it’s the scale of the writ­ing that’s the star. With over 40 in­di­vid­ual in­stru­ments at his dis­posal, writ­ing con­vinc­ingly for a large-scale out­fit isn’t easy, but Pierre Wawrzy­niak, Camembert’s bassist and prin­ci­pal com­poser, suc­ceeds bril­liantly. Com­par­ing favourably to Zappa’s Waka/ Jawaka and Grand Wa­zoo pe­riod, or Gen­tle Gi­ant’s ro­bust yet in­tri­cate con­struc­tions, the rest­less en­ergy of this al­bum doesn’t sit still in one camp, be it prog, jazz, rock or quasi-clas­si­cal. In­stead, it ex­u­ber­antly em­braces them all with an open-minded eclec­ti­cism that’s bold, brave and re­fresh­ing.

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