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François Thollot - Happy Lockdown CD (album) cover


François Thollot



3.15 | 4 ratings

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Steve Conrad
3 stars Jazz-tinged Layered Keyboard Whimsy

François Thollot

Dear friends: this French musician sets out to celebrate, yes to celebrate- when so many are glum, morose, if not actively hostile, resistant and insistent- that most universal of human experiences.

And what is that?


We wish we were tall, but alas! We are quite short. We wish to be wise, yet somehow wind up foolish and/or cliched. Leaders- yet end up behind some charismatic charlatan. Open and transparent- hiding behind a mask.

Happy Lockdown

Possibly it's a coincidence that François chose this title for his third full-length release, this time of limitations, masks, forced home-bound reveries- yes, all the boundaries and vagaries of a global menace, a pandemic of riotous virulent illness.

But I doubt it.

Using a variety of keyboard textures, layering these, utilizing meandering melodies, compositions in which a theme is proposed- perhaps by electric piano, or clavinet, or acoustic piano, then layering in marimba sounds or xylophone sounds, beginning to elaborate with point and counterpoint, some layers staccato, others dissonant chords held, then transmuted- with bass guitar throbbing on a single note or wandering in jazzy search of bottom end chord structures, and busy (programmed) drumming- François Thollot mesmerizes and captivates and hypnotizes the listener.

Then subsides...

...only to shift, transmute, and mutate into more layered whimsy.

The sensibility is much more about impressionism than realism, much more about escaping the...err...limitations of verse, chorus, verse, bridge, chorus structure- meanwhile happily working within equally disciplined, yet much less conventional frameworks.

Zeuhl, RIO, Avant-Progressive, Canterbury

These are not my common oeuvre, and I listen for mood, texture, meanings; I listen for what the musician and the music mean to convey.

I find myself forced to attend, to ponder, to push the boundaries of my listening styles, my preferred paths and roadways. To acknowledge my limitations.

Celebrate the limitations, I think François Thollot tells us, with all the subtlety, whimsy, and layers at our disposal.

So Let Me Say This

It seems good, not great, to me. This music is never harsh, rude, extreme, or simple. Yet within the tracks one can sense humor, restlessness, whimsy, and overflowing musicality. Therefore, I rate this three dead sparrows- with two alive.

Steve Conrad | 3/5 |


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