Unquiet Music Ltd 2020
Elevating temporal matters to eternity, musical orison expands one’s horizons and positively preys on one’s soul.
Despite this project starting to exist in 2019, Jean-Pierre Rossi began working on its debut two years earlier, yet the resulting concept is much more than a simple vehicle for the French composer’s ideas. Never more timely than now, it’s also much more than a poetic plea in the period of pandemic, which never was part of the album anyway; rather, it’s an impressive attempt to create a psychedelic alternative to traditional Christian liturgy. Here’s why the eleven pieces on offer form four movements – “The Father” followed by “The Son” followed by “The Holy Spirit” followed by “Amen” – whereas the individual tracks titles are actually descriptors for the snippets of New Testament verses. Factor in four guitarists firmly associated with prog rock – Frédéric L’Epée, Cédric Theys, Trey Gunn and Markus Reuter – alongside singers and string quartet, and what emerges can be perceived as a sonic iconostasis. Only it sounds less self-important than one might imagine.
The record proposes a cinematic, musique concrète experience from the effects-infused anxiety of “Anaerobic Awakening” on, but the sparse rave and chamber air of “Feeling Unity” will radiate a mesmeric melodic skronk as if to move away from the avant-garde context to ambient soundscape of organic nature, with a spectral vocal chant, muscular groove and barely-there electronica of “Conditional Cases” that compliment the strum adding delicious details to the aural image. Simultaneously tangible and ethereal, it hardly has notions of nuanced epicness which the album’s possessed of, especially once heavy riffs come into the picture to drive “Monopolizing Spaces” to a proper, lyrically embellished song, a mini-oratorio of sorts, before “Producing Symmetries” takes the polyphonic drift to a different spiritual plane, oiled by solemn organ, and “A Mosaic Return” finds it fragmented afresh.
But while “A Lullaby For Uma Devi” is sculpting a stark tune out of quasi-abstract passages, the sprawling “The Introspection Of Edward Maitland” focuses on spoken word until it’s subsumed into background mess coming from meandering ivories and ushers in “Post-Epiphany” – a majestic, albeit magnificently reserved, mass whose rapture is accelerated by birds’ chirping and sounds of footsteps. Given a climax like this, “In The Name Of...” proves to be a major opus that, unfortunately, will remain too cerebral, albeit emotional enough, for laymen to latch onto and passionately love.