Franck Vigroux & Matthew Bourne – – – – – ME MADAME (GOOD NEWS FROM WONDERLAND)

D’Autres Cordes

Hyperactive Vigroux has been collaborating with several heavyweights recently (Marc Ducret, Elliott Sharp, Joey Baron..), but I was a little surprised to see his name associated with Matthew Bourne, the young anti-virtuoso from Wiltshire who rescues abandoned pianos only to bang their keyboards remorselessly. The outcome of the encounter is equally surprising: if you had anticipated an archetypal improvising duo, think again. —- Me Madame (the dashes cover the verb “call” on the sleeve) might at first blush seem an acousmatic mishmash, but closer attention reveals music that’s captivatingly rocking, moderately inhuman, and frequently arresting in its deliberate lack of refinement. One of the best moments comes at the beginning of “Lièvre de Mars”, where unintelligible resonances, smudged electronic pulses and looped records provide a disquieting background for ultra-quick evolutions by Bourne, who plays analogue synthesizers besides electric and acoustic piano while Vigroux is credited with “analogue synths, electroacoustic [sic], guitar, turntables”. Avoidance of predictability seems to be the watchword throughout the record, which also contains less pleasing episodes (“Have a Champignon” is franckly terrible with its incoherently melismatic distortions) and substantial amounts of naiveté. But when the guys manage to catch the right segment to reduce to pulp, or juxtapose absurd drum patterns with incoherent vocal mutterings amidst reiterative orchestral samples (“Da King”) or elongated soprano echoes bathed in digital crunch (“Welcome in Wonderland”), things get very funny. It may be ugly at times, but this music sounds genuinely warped, which means it gets additional points from this commentator.

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