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Philippe Petit & Friends: Cordophony

img  Tobias Fischer

The thirteen tracks of Philippe Petit's Cordophony are running the gamut from sketch-like allusions to epically proportioned statements, from contemporary-composition-like arrangements to a fusion of ambient/drone/experimental and acoustic orchestrations. Thanks to an instrumental approach and the sonic potentials of the instruments used on the album - some of which, owing to their shorter reverb times, require a bit more handling in order to create the desired cloudy tonal densities - the resulting impression is one of lively experimentation, of a fiddly, almost nervous musical process.

And yet, Cordophony remains on the filigree side of things throughout. Instead of highlighting and stimulating the potentially considerable sonic power of the instruments, it instead zooms in on the minute details of the interplay between them, creating and easing tension or even changing the general direction of the music by means of a highly effective use of breaks as a compositional tool: Although these pieces are mostly comparatively short, they are nonetheless constantly caught up in a process of transformation. The contributions of the friends, which include Reinhold Friedl, Aidan Baker and Nils Frahm among others, are vital. Still, one can expect Philippe Petit to act as the organising force, arranging the overall sound of Cordophony, its individual gestations and gestures, into coherent themes. There is an intriguing meta dynamic at play here, a collective growing-together of individual segments into something far bigger than the sum of its parts.

Despite its diversity, Cordophony doesn't present the listener with myriads of fractured solo efforts. Rather, it feels like a giant house with thirteen rooms, each hosting a different group of musicians, all collaboratively contributing to the work. And whatever path through the building you may choose – it's always the right one.

Review by Hellmut Neidhardt
Translation by Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Philippe Petit
Homepage: Home Normal Records