These two adventurers confidently show us around the outer reaches of their musical universe, founded, as all good astronauts should be, in the rigorous technicalities of their vocation.
Available from Bandcamp
Pierre Lapprand : Saxophones, FX, Etienne Manchon : Rhodes, Piano, Prophet, FX
Recorded 2022 at Ohm sweet Ohm studio by Julien Reyboz, mixed by Clément Soulignac, mastered by Benjamin Joubert
The two sonic explorers behind Congé Spatial have launched a début album of “interstellar jazz”, guiding their listeners on a musical orbit accompanied by a constellation of cosmic sounds.
These two adventurers confidently show us around the outer reaches of their musical universe, founded, as all good astronauts should be, in the rigorous technicalities of their vocation. Both Lapprand and Manchon are hardworking composers and players.
The dexterity gained from classical and jazz conservatoire training is generously infused with wider musical influences that draw on French musette, electronica, punk, psychedelic rock, romantic piano, afrobeat… All these sounds and more feature on this album; impressive considering it is the work of just two musicians.
Yet it is a pleasantly floaty experience which is evoked on the cover artwork of their self-titled 11-track recording, and indeed opening track, Solarium, embarks the listener on a suitably mystical adventure in which electronic twinkles punctuate Lapprand’s wistful melody.
This mystic ambience is referenced elsewhere, for instance in Houlà, in which Lapprand’s husky sax rises loftily against Manchon’s terricolous keyboards.
Prosaic moments entwine with an offbeat humour: in RamDam the astronauts tune in our shuttle radio, as recorded sounds cross lines with an eastern accordion melody to the beat of the deep sax rhythm.
Dots of snatched sounds continue to weave through the album, through playful short snippets and longer tracks. You won’t nod off on this musical adventure, that’s for sure.
The most hummable tune is Manchon’s composition Il fait mi-beau, the most stylistically jazz-like moment of the album. Both instruments deftly solo to create a melodic piece which yields into the atmospheric, modal purity of of S.l.r.m.
This is then juxtaposed against La Boiteuse, a piece which flits between languorous washes of Debussy-esque keyboards and boisterous and muscular interludes by the tenor sax.
For a first album, this is a confident blast-off into a riot of styles, introducing us to these musical imaginations which explore a milky way of textures, unharnessed by genre. It’s jazz, Jim, but not as we know it.
The duo’s assured leadership of their other-worldly spaceship has already been picked up by the establishment’s radar. Congé Spatial were awarded the Tonnerre de Jazz 2021 and more recently in 2023, the Urtreger prize.
When not shooting through the stratosphere on stage together, both musicians lead or play in a multitude of other groups, absorbing no doubt, inspiration for their next recording. It will be interesting to see whether they gravitate towards a particular planet or continue to float around the solar system, avoiding classification.