Chat Noir – Hyperuranion – RareNoise 

by | Jul 10, 2019 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Chat Noir – Hyperuranion – [TrackList follows] – RareNoise RNR104, 43:17 [3/29/19] ****:

Electro-jazz group Chat Noir (French: “Black Cat”) continues to meld digital and organic, electronic and acoustic on the 43-minute Hyperuranion, the band’s seventh release (and third for the London-based RareNoise label). Chat Noir co-founders Michele Cavallari (keyboards) and bassist Luca Fogagnolo are now joined by full-time guitarist Daniel Calvi (who also plays synths), who was a guest on Chat Noir’s previous outing, Nine Thoughts for One Word (2016, RareNoise). Rounding out the quartet is German drummer Moritz Baumgärtner (concert credits include Tony Malaby, Theo Bleckmann, Kurt Rosenwinkel and others). Guest Norwegian trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær is on four of the album’s nine tracks. Hyperuranion  is available as a gatefold 12-inch heavyweight vinyl LP; compact disc; and as digital download files. This review refers to the CD.

As the record title suggests, Hyperuranion owes much to Plato’s vision of the cosmos. The Hyperuranion is considered a realm where the soul waits before entering the body and acts as a stimulus for mankind’s continual search for beauty and truth while on Earth. For Chat Noir, their Hyperuranion is described as a transcendent space beyond genre where electronica, rock, jazz and ambient music blend into a musical fusion. Cavallari explains further, “Regarding our music more specifically, the concept of Hyperuranion relates to the coexistence of ethereal atmospheres with firmer musical ideas that are rooted in the different languages that inspire our music, from the experimental jazz and rock of the ‘70s all the way to the techno scene.” Chat Noir utilizes digital approaches to produce music. Starting with 2014’s Elec3Cities, Chat Noir turned to a virtual studio, sharing files over a cloud-based system and constructing the final product incrementally. For Hyperuranion, the cloud-based structure was used in pre-production, but the group decided to tape the music together in one room, returning to the band’s earlier way of spontaneous production. Fogagnolo clarifies, “Based on that, we reshaped the album in the studio. As a result, Hyperuranion sounds more alive with respect to our previous two albums.”

Hyperuranion jerks awake with the agitated “Blisters,” which has a persistent synth groove as a rhythmic foundation and quotes the famous line from the Beatles’ song “Helter Skelter” (“I’ve got blisters on my fingers!”).  Another synth-driven piece is the pop-ish “Overcome,” which has a hypnotic beat arrangement which drops away for a while when Calvi brings in guitar effects and chords juxtaposed by the rasping of fingers on guitar strings, and then the music ascends again to close with a finish where bell-like sounds coalesce with digital feedback.

Chat Noir is equally at home with moodier and darkly-hued pieces such as the dour “Humanity,” the first of four cuts specifically composed with Molvær in mind. Cavallari recalls, “Through Nils we discovered the northern European jazz movement, which has had a big influence on our music.” Molvær’s familiar trumpet tone launches the first of two renditions of “Quasar,” which otherwise includes ambient synth effects as a repetitive rhythmic base. The cinematic-esque “Glimpse” also includes Molvær, although his contribution comes near the end of this SF-meets-dance floor future-pop tune, which has upfront effects where it is not clear what noises are created by guitar, keyboards or other instruments. Molvær’s final input is a longer reprise of “Quasar” which concludes the album. This track is a perfect stasis of acoustic (trumpet) and synthetic (effects, electric guitar, keyboards). There’s an evocative timbre which surges from beneath and rises to the top as the groove escalates while Molvær’s trumpet is digitally manipulated and reaches for the heavens. Other standouts include “Ten Elephants,” which builds from atmospheric elements to thundering beats to a flexible and robust groove; and another creature-inspired piece, the relentless “Matador Insects,” where guitar figures, acoustic bass, whooshing synths and electronica beats manufacture an unremitting pulse. Plato might not have understood Chat Noir’s music, but Chat Noir comprehends how music can surpass the mortal plane and aspire to something above or beyond musical barriers.

Michele Cavallari – keyboards; Luca Fogagnolo – bass; Daniel Calvi – guitar, synths; Moritz Baumgärtner – drums; Nils Petter Molvær – trumpet (tracks 2, 5, 6, 9)

Immediate Ecstasy
Ten Elephants
Matador Insects
Quasar (Reprise)

—Doug Simpson



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