Quatuor Qwat Reum Six

Live at Festival NPAI 2007
Amor Fati FATUM 017

With sonic textures and timbres often as inscrutable as the band’s name, four of France’s most accomplished improvisers explore non-idiomatic sounds. This continuous, though segmented, performance is not only tonally mesmerizing, but also one which, through the use of extensions and techniques negate the differences between acoustic and electronic instruments.

A self-described “outlaw in jazz”, baritone saxophonist Daunik Lazro has followed his own muse for decades, Here, his nephritic timbres and unexpected upward twists produce as many oscillations as the static loops and patches exposed from Jérôme Noetinger’s table-top electronics. Meantime, while Michael Nick’s string shaking, shuffle bowing and spiccato patterns extend the violin’s range, Sophie Agnel hardly touches the piano keys, preferring to create her own aesthetic with resonation, thumps and clanks available when internal strings are first prepared and then plucked, strummed or stroked.

Dazzling above all else is the centre section of this narrative where Noetinger’s motor-driven relation to musique concrete is transformed, with his output becoming as viscous and diaphanous as the others’ contributions. From among the furiously angled fiddle string sawing, defiantly acoustic continuous saxophone breaths and muscular string strokes which alter the piano’s action, arises a multi-faceted, multi-directional theme. In the countdown to the finale, it aurally exposes both the massed polyphonic texture as well as individual variations including reed spetrofluctuation, whining string dislocation and wave form feedback.

Although remembering Quator Qwart Reum Six’s odd moniker may be tricky, discovering its music is worth the linguistic brain-teasing involved.

— Ken Waxman

— For MusicWorks Issue #106