Agnel / Edwards / Noble METEO (Clean Feed)

23 Aug

Oddly enough, the realm of improvised piano in France has mainly become the turf of women: Christine Wodrascka, Eve Risser, Sophia Domancich, and of course Sophie Agnel. A rigorously cerebral player, Agnel started to show a different facet of her talents on her excellent solo album Capsizing Moments (Emanem) released in 2009. Her playing has become if not more emotional, at least more dramatic without losing any of its originality.

METEO is in a similar vein and features the French pianist with two stalwarts of the British improvised music scene, bass player John Edwards and drummer Steve Noble, in one single epic piece. Those two musicians know each other inside out and it is to Agnel’s credit to stand out and pull out a solid performance where everyone plays with a sense of liberation. Throbs, pulsations, scrapes, and crashes usually evolve into a molten magma whether the band builds a climax or devises its next move – and a sketch of a melody is never out of question.

The sounds Agnel extracts from the piano’s insides with her fingers or with the help of various objects underline the relationship between the three instruments. Being both a percussion and a string instrument, the piano enables Agnel to connect with her two cohorts at a telepathic level. At times, there is even such a communion of sounds that it becomes difficult to tell them apart.

The fertile imagination displayed by the trio helps get acquainted with a challenging musical environment. METEO is also a good introduction to Agnel’s musicianship. Compared to Edwards and Noble, she does not have an extended discography. This is one more reason to relish this otherwordly set.

– Alain Drouot

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