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Fractale - Live Suranné CD (album) cover





3.66 | 40 ratings

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4 stars Now for something a little different... Suranne is the debut live EP of French saxophonist Julian Julien's group Fractale. He has released some solo studio albums previously but this is the first release of his new group. Julian studied classical music before discovering Jazz and, later, progressive rock. This project was originally inspired by the Javier Marias book "Tomorrow In Battle, Think Of Me." There is in fact a lot of inspiration from books and film on the music of Fractale. Some of the musical ideas were taken from background music in some films for example.

The music of Fractale is entirely instrumental and features just wind instruments (sax, trumpet, tuba, etc.) and drums. However, the baritone sax and tuba are electric and put through effects pedals. In addition, Julian has pre-programmed sounds playing from his laptop while the band plays in time to those sounds. If this wasn't a live recording you might be fooled into thinking it was somebody playing a synth. The music itself is generally lively and is maybe too jazz to be considered rock and too rock to be considered jazz. The laptop adds a welcome spacey element to the proceedings. The rhythm is more of a rock or funk type most of the time. The wind instruments make great interplay with each other but rarely solo as such.

This music is tightly composed and leaves little room for improvisation; that is one of the things it has in common with Zeuhl. The rhythms are fairly Magma-esque, but unlike the majority of Zeuhl, vocals and bass guitar have no place here. Stated influences include Miles Davis, Soft Machine, Pink Floyd and Genesis. Now the last two throw people off, but I detect some influence from the horn-heavy Atom Heart Mother. The spacey vibes puts the music more in a Gong vein. For a jazz-rock oriented group they tend to stick to a groove, as opposed to many fusion groups who try to be as technical as possible. The sound is decent but not crystal clear; this music must be more powerful being in the audience.

The first five tracks were recorded in 2008, I'm not sure when the other two were. The last two tracks are sonically inferior to the main five tracks. Those five do not have a title and are presented not in any kind of numerical order. On Youtube there are also videos of the group performing numbered pieces not on this EP. The two recording dates contain slightly different line-ups and instrumentation. "Partie VI" is the shortest track and may be more improv oriented. "Partie V" is the longest track of the main five and is probably the highlight of the whole EP. A little bit more spacey than the other tracks.

The first bonus track "Sans papiers" is a highlight and is generally a very upbeat and happy sounding song for the most part. Some actual soloing here. "Clementine" is more chamber-prog sounding compared to the rest of the EP. Great guitar-like solo from I don't know which instrument. The electronics here benefit the song. This is a mix of Zeuhl (both the darker, rhythm heavy as well as the lighter, soulful variety), spacey electronics, jazz-rock and a little bit of avant-prog. I really like the cover and pictures of fractals in general. I enjoyed this music very much and hope they record a proper studio album in the near future. A studio recording will not improve the performance but will give the music clarity and an extra punch. Recommended to Zeuhl fans, although don't expect any vocals or roaring bass. 4 stars.

zravkapt | 4/5 |


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