Dominique Pifarély Quartet: Tracé Provisoire (ECM 2481)

Tracé Provisoire

Dominique Pifarély Quartet
Tracé Provisoire

Dominique Pifarély violin
Antonin Rayon piano
Bruno Chevillon double bass
François Merville drums
Recorded July 2015, Studios La Buissonne, Pernes-les-Fontaines
Engineers: Gérard de Haro and Nicolas Baillard
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Release date: June 3, 2016

In the immediate wake of his solo album Time Before And Time After, violinist Dominique Pifarély returns to ECM leading a fearless quartet with pianist Antonin Rayon, bassist Bruno Chevillon, and drummer François Merville. The album’s title, which translates into English as “Provisional Layout,” is at once accurate and a misnomer. Accurate because Pifarély’s stoic humility allows no leeway for ego. Misnomer because this music is anything but provisional, archived as it is for posterity in this crisp recording.

The album is mostly populated by three diptychs, each split throughout the program. “Le peuple effacé” opens the ears to an honest exploration of space, Pifarély’s bow trembling like the feeler of an insect. Its second part extends a steadier hand, hennaed with designs and motifs that, despite having lost their original meanings, take on new ones by virtue of clinging to flesh. With rhythmic acuity in spades, Pifarély navigates every twist without so much as grazing his instrument along the way. Just as forthrightly, he settles into a lethargic meditation.

(Photo credit: Jean-Baptiste Millot)

The title dyad abides by an even more exploratory grammar, wherein orthography is found lurking in every pause. The groovier settlement into which once-nomadic impulses find themselves collapsing is as haunting as it is energizing. The rhythm section is on point here, transitioning from robust to delicate maneuvers with nary a blink to be sensed. Part II is Rayon’s realm. Here the pianist diverts attention to shadow with light, and vice versa, before leaving the other three to dance until their bodies disappear.

“Vague” is a rich soundscape of breathy violin and percussive details, a progression from womb to tomb that consumes philosophies as if they were food. This leaves two standalones. Where “Le regard de Lenz” is an exploded geometry of pent-up force, and as such is the album’s fulfillment of rupture, “Tout a déjà commencé” is a thirteen-and-a-half-minute mosaic of elegiac and celebratory influences. Chevillon ups the bassing quotient significantly, leaving room for a ripple effect to sing. In this regard, the band’s willingness to go as deep as they need to in order to unearth what it is they’re searching for is admirable, and leaves us feeling filled to the brim.

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