If Astrud Gilberto has a male counterpart, it's Beat Kaestli, a sublimely mellifluous singer whose work is smooth as satin, slow, easy, and savory. I also get the distinct laidback joy—sometimes restrained, other times unbound, but never clamorous—felt in groups like Gugenheim Grotto and Weekend (esp. the La Variete LP). Of course, there's an afternoon wistfulness in cuts like Cantique Suisse, leavened with Will Holhauser's lark-ish accordion, but perhaps the best exposition to Keastli's talents in the Collage disc is the atmospheric duet with bassist Matt Wigton on Round Midnight (here: Autour de Minuit, as Kaestli sings almost exclusively en francais throughout the disc).
Kaestli's so mellow he makes Mel Torme sound like a sit-in to Judas Priest when Rob Halford's out of action. Collage presents music to put the definition to 'languorous' and make absinthe drinkers melt in a puddle. Forget anything but setting down into a patio chair under an umbrella with the sun pouring golden rays as you sip a good bordeaux, a lazy hazy smile creeping across your face beneath eyes slitted in pleasure. It figures the French would produce a cat like this 'cause a strongly Parisian coloration invades the entire CD.
In the intro cut, Kaestli dubs in his own self-chorus, just as laid back but in a split melody arrangement, Holhauser's accordion ostinato'd beneath, providing secondary rhythm to Wigton's subtler bass work. The classic La Vie en Rose (Life through Rose-Colored Glasses but literally Life in Pink), Edith Piaf's signature song, appears stripped down to its essence, a breath and a scent on the air, a floating tissue against a blue cloud-flecked sky, a memory. But not the entire release is soporific: Comme en Pleine Reve is the spunkiest number, and Kaestli's joined by Clarice Assad in duet, she just as slinky as he. Despite that, though, you might want to save playing the platter until later in the day. If your boss is expecting productivity, that desire will be shot to hell.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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