As Alban Darche & L’Orphicube perform the two acts of The Atomic Flonflons it becomes eminently clear that a kind of opera buffa is unfolding. It is the best sense yet of comédie musicale, comédie musicale, drame bernois, comédie dramatique, amusement ludique. Not only is this beautifully described in the dramatic and comical nonsense rhythms that unfurls in a myriad jerking motions throughout the music, but also in the nervous whinny of a voice in which Chloé Cailleton brings the lyric narratives and recitations to life. Miss Cailleton is a first and foremost the most inspired choice of a vocalist for these flonflons. Even the manner in which she sings “I’ll be Seeing You” with mock-seriousness that turns into pathos in a few dramatic moments towards the end of the song is quite masterful.
Of course, this is a superb group, completely in tune with the artistry and vision of Alban Darche for this period set piece that flits, in its theatrical and musical topography, from Italy to France and the wonderfully noir-like pre-war Berlin Expressionism brought to life by (the iconic roles played by Marlene Dietrich in films of that era). Again, there is nothing more than the beautiful and dark counterpoint that follows Miss Cailleton first few choruses. It highlights also the magnificent virtuosity of Mr Darche and the other musicians who parley with the familiarity of old friends “from the conservatoire”. Here – as elsewhere throughout this superb recording – the musicians retain that sense of gracious etiquette associated with the noble consanguinity that characterized the musicians of that particular era.
Nothing is forces or exaggerated or overly mannered; tempos, ensemble and balance – all seem effortlessly and intuitively right. The saxophone sound by Mr Darche and Mr Payen with the trumpet of Mr Laisney is radiant and lucid, while the piano played by Nathalie Darche together with the accordion of Mr Ithursarry, the drums of Mr Lavergne add warmth and bass –pizzicato and con arco by Mr Boisseau. These are, in sum, a fitting tribute to the whimsical and memorable character of the music, which also includes a classic adaptation of a poem “Le ciel est par dessus le toit” by Paul Verlaine. An album to die for…
Track list – Premier Acte – 1: Saudade (Pluie Lente); 2: Jungle; 3: Rhythm Song; 4: L’oiseau qu’on voit chante sa plainte; 5: La paloma; 6: Java. Second Acte – 7: Musette; 8: I’m a Fool to Want You; 9: Ragtime; 10: Tango Vif; 10: I’ll be Seeing You; 11: Automne
Personnel – Alban Darche: alto, soprano and baritone saxophones; Chloé Cailleton: voice; Nathalie Darche: piano; Didier Ithursarry: accordion; Stéphane Payen: alto saxophone; Olivier Laisney: trumpet; Christophe Lavergne: drums; Sébastien Boisseu: contrabass
Released – 2018
Label Yolk Music (Yolk J 2074)
Runtime – 53:00