La Rochelle musician shapes a fresh reality out of shattered reveries to provide a new impetus to forgotten memories.
A veteran of a few tribute collectives, Arnaud Quevedo may have accelerated his creative momentum in 2020 to offer full-length studio and live albums to those willing to listen, yet the French composer could never let his debut EP, “OniZ” from 2012, slip into obscurity. Perhaps, originally that record wasn’t part of a larger concept – only, as time went by, it got fleshed out with additional ideas, and “2nd Life” came into existence to see the four parts of the titular epic intersperse the patinated pieces from the past and, thus, outline a different context for its writer’s personal favorites, cut afresh to reflect his matured worldview. In their unpredictable drift, the results are stylistically varied, if organically blended, and breathtakingly, stunningly arresting.
It’s not often clear where you stand at any given instant of this album – and, more frequently than not, it’s eerie in there – but it’s also quite a comfortable place within the mélange of genres Monsieur Quevedo’s mind has conjured and passed on to his guitar passages. His figures emerge from “Awakening” once a Morse-code-like fret-tapping is softened by flute before getting ruffled by a bass melody and shuffled up the gamut towards harmonic wonder and the enchanting weave of vocals that push their folk-infused and jazz-sprinkled sentiment to, in turns, soothing, celestial heights, chthonic, riff-ravaged depths, and simple, earthly pleasures. And if “Any 2.0” finds Eloïse Baleynaud’s voice bathing in a cello-cellophaned rapture of a Renaissance sort until electric strings and woodwind bring on faux-orchestral storm and propose a calm sax solo and frantic funky licks for a contrast, the number’s final Latino jive won’t prepare anyone for “Yuki” whose anxious Frippertronics and Arnaud’s singing spur each other in search of serenity with a busy bottom-end: an entrance to “Journey” which stitch sonic adventurousness to hypnotic fusion and progressive metal.
Here’s why the elegant instrumental fluttering of “No Soy Breton” is more than welcome, as it provides a sweet respite from the preceding onslaught without sounding too elegiac, especially when it’s scented with reggae which will allow the flow to speed up and pull the percussive worry of “Ekinox 2.0” into the frame to rock the album’s very foundation by unleashing tasty shredding and reeds’ attack. And here’s why the ivories-driven, effervescent scat and filigreed interplay of “Inner Demons” feel tumultuous yet exude no fear, except in the funereal symphonic surges in the middle of this track, building instead tension the transparently triumphant, and groovy, “Hindsight’s” should pick up and take further, closer to eternity, with a pronounced Gallic flavor. “2nd Life” must leave a lingering aftertaste: the platter is that delicious.