There is an unbearable kind of angst that lurks in the music of Chat Noir. It is deliberate, of course. After all, why else would a trio of musicians name themselves after a black cat? This reference to a fabulous 19th century entertainment feature in the bohemian part of the Montmartre district of Paris and could easily also stand for something (probably a muse) which provides the basis for the bizarre and timely and incredibly elastic tension that enrobes the music of Elec3cities, as if it were wanting in a black cape as well. However as much as the music is dark, it is also exciting in a dangerous sort of way. It beckons like a hooded figure in the night amid the screaming and caterwauling night sprites. Piano is entwined with a bass of some sort, the tentacles of which grip the drums to cause the spatial tattoo that makes for the rhythmic foundation of the music. The harmonics that rage within the spaces created by the melodic leaps is beautiful—and dangerous. The airy chants blow by the echoes of a roaring guitar and a screaming keyboard—yes a keyboard—to suggest that, from the opening track, “Avant Buddha”—nothing will be quite what it seems. And that is exactly what unfolds thereafter.
In one of the calmest tracks of the album, “Chelsea High Line” acoustic instruments take over and for once, there is a semblance of tension unleashed. Still, the melodic progression as unfolded by the piano suggest that more noirish narratives are to follow. Thus, even though piano and a forbidding, grumbling acoustic bass stay mellow for most of the piece, the music remains in a somewhat dark realm until the wailing effects are introduced. There is a sense that the musicians strive to strike a balance between the eccentric and the conventional, for why else would acoustic instruments intertwine with electronic effects in a spatial realm? The key to understanding this is following the music as if it were an seamless expressionist chromatic piece, played in the present continuous tense—for want of a better way to describe the time and space within which this art has been created. “Ninth” is, in that sense, the crest of the imaginary wave. It is the foretelling of the musical tsunami that is to befall the place where such dreaded aspects of living are seen in the near future—if such a storyline is to be followed as the music attempts to create.
The ingenuity of this film-like story is the brainchild of pianist, Michele Cavallari, bassist and guitarist, Luca Fogagnolo and of drummer Giuliano Ferrari. Their ability to deconstruct a song and send it through a kind of melodic grinder so that it emerges chopped and angular is legion. The group has also mastered the art of entwining electronic effects and utilise them to bend and twist the story into something so convoluted that a multiple-headed hydra emerges further creating a sense of the phantasmagorical. It does, indeed, recall the incredibly fantastic storyline that might easily follow from a book by Jorge Luis Borges, and although this is never obvious, it lurks like a blanket of beautiful sound beneath the constantly shape-shifting music.
Track List: Avant Buddha; Chelsea High Line; Ninth; Pearls; Radio Show; Peaceful; Our Hearts Have Been Bombed; Aspekt.
Personnel: Michele Cavallari: piano, keys, fx; Luca Fogagnolo: electric bass, upright bass, guitars, fx; Giuliano Ferrari: drums, fx.
Label: RareNoise Records | Release date: April 2014
Photo of Chat Noir by: Paolo Soriani
For the past 12 years, Chat Noir has been a piano-bass-drums trio that has performed original compositions unconfined by any etiquettes of genre. From its origins as an acoustic jazz threesome, Chat Noir has progressively broadened its vocabulary with the inclusion of electronic textures and sounds. Throughout the evolution of its style, the band has at its core remained devoted to a true collective mindset rather than any leader/sideman structure. Grounded in the roots of friendship, Chat Noir continues to freely explore the outer limits of what it can be.