ANTOINE FAFARD – Occultus Tramitis

Unicorn Digital 2013

ANTOINE FAFARD - Occultus Tramitis

ANTOINE FAFARD –
Occultus Tramitis

Of Montreal and into the fire, bass adventurer navigates a hidden track into greatness, with fusion stars joining him along the way.

Latin titles belie the intrepid spirit of this artist who, having left Quebec around the time of his trio SPACED OUT’s "Slow Gin", relocated to that liqueur’s homeland and found a welcome scene in London. Fafard’s debut under his own name, “Solus Operandi,” proved the bassist as a prominent force on a worldwide scale and an adequate sparring partner for Dave Weckl, yet Antoine’s second solo outing sees him expand the rhythmic palette and engage the whole array of challenging drummers in the melodious anabasis. It might get well-tempered in the end, when the leader stays alone for a short reading of Bach’s “Prelude No. 2 in C minor” on his fretless beast, but for the most part there’s an elegant roar on many a front.

Here’s a heavy rock rumble in “The Chamber” chopped with Scott Henderson’s six strings and given additional weight by returning Weckl, and an almost techno groove to the jam-fest “Funkevil,” whereas in an exotic meander of “Holding Back Time” Terry Bozzio’s wondrous beat keeps afloat the unison and divergence of two Jerrys, Goodman on violin and De Villers Jr. on guitar. Don’t be fooled, then, by the initial serenity as “Peace For 4” covers Gavin Harrison’s grit with a fiddle ripple before Fafard’s gentle acoustic strum grows in scope and lowers in tone causing the glossy veneer to crack. On the other hand, “Good Reasons” – lured into a comfort zone, and ambushed there, by Simon Phillips – doesn’t leave a quiet place despite all the efforts of Jean-Pierre Zanella’s sax to take it onto jazz rock’s terra firma.

Once there, “Fur & Axes” sounds fittingly warm and dangerous letting Antoine weave a classical guitar lace around Chad Wackerman’s vibrant carcass that jolts and jitters after Goodman’s bow is lifted and Fafard’s slap gives the piece a new momentum. Quite unexpectedly, a calm oasis hides in “Tree O” where the main man is joined by Sylvain Bolduc and Denis Labrosse on his weapon of choice and solos are traded in the most elegiac manner, while “Methamorphosis” marries rhythmic tribalism to almost symphonic discipline and a highly memorable tune. So the album’s title might mean “Hidden Track” yet it surely is a road to glory.

****4/5

January 27, 2014

Category(s): Reviews
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