Mad Ducks 2022
Austin auteur progresses to purely composing aspect of sound to place percussive spin in this plateau of existence.
An acclaimed Touch guitarist and sculptor of soundscapes, Cédric Theys has long felt a certain inadequacy of what he’s able to do with electric and electronic textures, be it in a solo-record context or a collaboration with brother Alban, but the UNQUIET MUSIC LTD project, in which this musician played a prominent role, shaped his idea of what a wider spectrum of instruments could achieve, so during the pandemic the Texan, inspired by a photo of an egret on the wing, finished the pieces he had started writing a few years back. Recording the suite with Colorado Chamber Orchestra and shifting the focus from strings to mallet and glockenspiel, as well as woodwinds, without playing a single passage himself, was, quite possibly, stressful for the composer, yet the final result is as free-flying and ethereal as the album’s title suggests, “The Lightness Of Being” often seeming minimalistic, albeit always expansive and captivating.
The listener will be pulled into its lulling flow once the piano ripples of “Esprit dans une broderie de nuages” – punctuated with finely tuned percussion – get under crystalline polyphony and polyrhythm that are sprinkled, in glorious stereo, all over the immersive melody until an insistent tickling surfaces to bring nervousness to the fore, and the titular number trades tasty elegy for exquisite dynamic sway only to welcome the elegy back in “Pensive Mind” where clarinet and oboe reign supreme, while the brief “Envol” and, further down the line, “Vol” distill the aural image to a nigh on intangible tinkle. Still, if the sophisticated groove is exposed to elements in “Le poids de l’anima” and “Heavy Light” fleshes out the beats in riffs, and the classical swirl of “Planant désir” offers an old-timey sonic patina, “Gliding Through Clouds” is given to a gradually intensifying glimmer, before “Machine pensante” weaves soprano through orchestral waves, and the pulsing “Forming Perception” sums up the whole experience with a triumphantly understated, and sometimes even sparse, lighting-like sparks of resonant notes.
What emerges can defy the static picture that underlies it and marry momentum to eternity, and that’s the precise wonder of this album, elevating its creator to a privileged stratum of modern romantics.