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Yochk'o Seffer - Yog I - Pitchipoy CD (album) cover


Yochk'o Seffer


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3 stars In short, this instrumental album would suit fans of the fusion end of Zao with a particular penchant for saxophone. While this is certainly an aquired taste, it's a very solid 3 stars! But sitting through the whole thing in one sitting is too much for most.

Pitchipoy finds Seffer returning to his alto sax, which according to the liner notes he'd abandoned since the sixties, a statement I find strange since he plays the alto a fair bit on his album Prototype and indeed all 7 saxophones and more on Adama. Be that as it may; on Pitchipoy he ONLY plays the alto sax meaning his sound is very homogeneous, to the point of monotonous.

This album is the first outing of the new band/concept YOG, following on previous concepts Neffesh Music (his best) and Chronophonie. The new element in YOG is the introduction of electronic and programmed elements, tastefully introduced by Thierry Maillard. Secondly, synthesizer (also Maillard) are pretty ubiquitous througout.

The liner notes sum up the sound pretty aptly: "[Pitchipoy] celebrates the meeting of Bartokian folklore with Cuban binary feeling and American groove." The rhythm section is essentially fusion, with the groovy chops of Zao drummer Jean-My Truong at the center and Seffer stalwart Dominique Bertram on fretless bass. Needless to say they are absolutely first rate.

But this is by no means your regular fusion! First, anyone who knows Seffer will know he never stick to scales and chords you'd know the names of. His trademark tonality is all over this album, which most would call atonal although as always extended from Seffer's three sources of inspiration: Hungarian folk music, Bela Bartok and John Coltrane (the latter two he shares with Christian Vander). Finally Seffer and as usual Seffer's self-made "scupltophonies" (wind instruments which are essentially hollow sculpturs with a sax mouthpiece) feature, although not prominently. The most accessible track is probably the closer "Batkol", employing Cuban-esque "dancing rhythms" as Seffer calls them; I'd like to see the disco putting this album on...

On the whole there is a serious danger of an overdose of Seffer's sax playing, especially with only the alto throughout. With a few exceptions, it's midtempo fusion with little dynamics. Seffer isn't much into ballads and soft & tender playing, but goes on and on at a steady forte, constantly moving through his strange scales. With the groove relatively unchanging for stretches it can get monotonous. From now on I will not listen to the entire album in one go, but one or two tracks at a time. The keys innovative synthesizers and occasional strangeness of the sonic sculptures add variation, but you have to listen properly to enjoy it.

As an aside the cover artwork, designed by Seffer himself, puzzles me no end. Seffer own YOG painting would have been mightly cool on its own, but then he's decided to take a picture of himself with his alto dressed in dubious fashion, cut it out with scissors and stuck it on top, and written text all over it with two different fonts, huge letters, one of them with a silly effect. Is this some kind of split personality? One an accomplished painter, sculptor and musician, the other the most amateurish graphic designer?

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Posted Thursday, December 17, 2020 | Review Permalink

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