Pacha has the second of three discs released as part of Constellation’s Musique Fragile 02 set. Pacha is the solo work of percussionist Pierre-Guy Blanchard and this disc is made of rhythm-heavy instrumentals, propelled by Middle-Eastern synth lines and sprinkled with guitar, bass and oud along with the odd looped field recording. It’s like electronic music with an Arabic pop fixation. And the instrumentation is really interesting:
“L’Aeroport De Charlo” is mostly thumping drums and a buzzy synth. There are some synth solos with distinctively Middle Eastern tones. I like the way the basic rhythm alters throughout the nearly 5 minute track. About half way through it turns to nearly all percussion a great rumbling drumming with one middle eastern instrument playing over the top (it sounds like a buzzy clarinet). “Macedonian Mind” has some great, complex drumming behind a simple synth riff. The music feels slightly menacing as the synths are quite buzzy, but the drums are just a lot of fun. The middle of the song uses that Middle Eastern sound with a melody line (I can’t tell if its voice or instrument or what) that works perfectly with the main Rockies riff.
“Modern Malaise” opens with a vocal choir, singing while there’s a simultaneous, seemingly unrelated bass line. And then a very cool funky section with more great drums and a kind of sneaky sounding riff. As the song progresses some spacey synths enter the song amid a clatter of echoing drums before it all resolves to that initial cool riff. In “La Gare De Podgorica” slow synths play over some complex drumming with a bunch of what sounds like hand drums. “Tunel” has some great hand drumming and low droning synths. And then comes the most middle eastern sounding riff of the disc. This track is my favorite–catchy and funky with some great hand drumming. The keys sound very later 60s.
“Ankara” is a fast song with complex hand drumming and an almost drone with vocals samplings, and a lot of the instrument listed below (Omar Dewachi plays saz and oud) and a warbly synth line. It is one of the longest songs on the disc and has the most going on it. “Starcevo” opens with some deep hand drums and what sounds like violins or maybe sampled voices or both. It’s kind of a disconcerting track with the drums the only thing keeping things steady. “Le Soviet” is played on a bunch of synths with a kind of carnivalesque feel to the sound. There’s a Middle Eastern riff and some interesting solos that sound almost classical.
From the Constellation site:
Blanchard received a BA in music in 2003, majoring in percussion performance, and then escaped the ‘new music’ trajectory by traveling extensively and immersing himself in Middle Eastern and Balkan traditions, studying under various masters and playing with a wide range of regional groups. During his periods back in Canada he performed as guest percussionist for Black Ox Orkestar … has also performed regularly with Sam Shalabi’s jazz/psych/arabic orchestra Land Of Kush. … Constellation re-sequenced and remastered the Affaires Étrangères CD-R for vinyl and is proud to be giving this album a more substantial life. It marks Blanchard’ first attempt at a definitive musical statement of his own and we think it succeeds wildly.
Musique Fragile Volume 02 is the second in our series of limited-edition, artwork-intensive box sets featuring three full-length albums by three different artists, available on heavyweight vinyl and as a digital bundle. The vinyl set will be limited to 500 hand-numbered copies, lovingly designed and hand-assembled:
[READ: October 31, 2016] Quirk’s Quest 1
This story threw out so much disconnect for me that I never really determined if I liked it.
The artwork is adorable–the characters look like Fraggle Rock creatures–soft and furry with big round ping pong ball eyes. Even the bad guys (much taller with four eyes) don’t look all that fierce.
In the first 30 pages, these monsters kill and eat some of the cute Fraggle Rock creatures. What?!
This book looks ostensibly like a children’s book. It is really cute. But the diary entries of the Captain are written in a cursive that even I had a hard time reading (particularly because the captain’s named is Quenterindy Quirk and he is sailing on the H.M.S. Gwaniimander (hard enough to read that, imagine trying to figure it out in cursive!).
So just what’s it about?
Well, Quenterindy Quirk is on a quest. He is full of himself pronouncing that they are all “led by such a wise and noble captain as I,” and rather obnoxious (and he is quite the coward). Their mission is to chart the lesser known lands of Crutonia–taking flora and fauna and censuses.
And shortly thereafter they sail near an island and are attacked by the giant four-eyed monsters. It is at this point that the captain seems to pretend to be unconscious so that Smok, the chef’s assistant, can take over. And she (or he?) does an excellent job as the de facto leader
Another of the team has been injured and with no one really in charge (some of them don’t accept Smoks leadership), everyone goes his or her own way–some trying to help the injuries team member, others just exploring and some are simply too frightened to do anything.
While they are trying to get settled, they happen upon a one-eyed witch lady named Hukka. Hukka is cranky but seems to be helpful. Although that all depends on who you ask.
Soon enough we also meet the Yoons, a combination of Elmo and the Ewoks–they are irrepressibly happy and call everyone friend (even their enemy is called friend-nasty) and they cheer and laugh all the time. Pretty cute! They welcome our sailors and feed and take care of them. Except, for some reason, no one goes back to tell the rest of the crew about the Yoons. So now we have a group with the Yoons and a group with Hukka. And then there are two rather cranky creatures who look alike, although one has multiple legs (Burtrym) and the other has two (Waldemar). They are independent and suspicious.
The Yoons are also looking after a creature named Quemylus (who they call Friend-Lukki) who appears to be from the land where the sailors are from, but it’s not clear.
About half way through the book we are introduced to the Sxervian Frog Brigade (ugh, the names in this book). They are legion and they are aggressive. Strangely, the Frog Brigade is listed individually at the end of the book, but I can’t find any of the ones wearing the aqua sash within the story itself–maybe the come on a future quest.
Eventually, it seems that Hukka might be insane–screaming for something called her Hekpa. There is a battle (frogs might die, it’s unclear), and medicine is found among the local flora.
And then after getting some warning about possible dangers ahead, our sailors set off for the next island (or wherever they can go without a ship).
I really wanted to like this book, and maybe the next few books in the series will flesh out the story some more. But as of right now it just feels like a children’s story written for older kids or vice versa. But the drawings (by Deborah Lang) sure are cute. #10yearsof01