For her latest, Joan Jeanrenaud has dialed things back. Perhaps the best reference for this kind of work is that the cuts are miniatures, entablatures, almost Satie's 'furniture music', compositions stripped down to rondos, chases, pensees, studies. The most interesting aspect is a balance of near-sterility and warmth in much of Pop-Pop, the kind of projection Kraftwerk excelled at during its prime (a la Computer World), though certain cuts depart from all that, exploring an Alice Coltrane-ian 'eternal tension / no release' vibe alongside other neoclassical wonts (in case ya forgot, Joan was a member of one of the world's premier string ensembles, the Kronos Quartet).
This CD is, as the credits show, a two-person effort between cellist Jeanrenaud and percussionist/electronicist Munoz. The latter presence is both good and not-so-good, a bit too often guilty of what Conveniens' drummer ran afoul of, a metronomic precision that sometimes strips expression from rhythm. Known as 'the bionic man', Maz was a good drummer but a tad too enamored with a pristine perfection that sometimes turned out to be not so perfect (zen tells us, after all, that it's the flaw which emphasizes beauty). Still, listening to Pop-Pop reminds one of Phil Glass' early studies, explorations of restrained craft and the territories of limitation.
Both players multi-track themselves, and thus the minimalism of the environment is well filled, perspicacity the defining rule. More than once, I detected the beautiful refrains of Jean-Luc Ponty in Jeanrenaud's lines while Munoz keeps to the kind of Christopher Franke percussion one finds in Trevor Horn's productions, then favoring more the lyrical DJ Tiesta side of the house when starkly florid (Where's Raymond?). Surprisingly, much of Pop-Pop is improvisational, and writer Derk Richardson notes Ligeti influence, which at first made me think "Hmmmm…" before realizing the guy was right. Add a little Giya Kanchelli to that, and you infer where Joan has here gone for her wellsprings. How many can you say that of?
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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