Gaspar Claus - Tancade
All you can do with a cello is just staggering!
Do you doubt it? Listen to Tancade.
With rubbing, stroking, bouncing, hammering, gliding brushing bow... or without bow. And with a mechanical electrified bow too. The possibilities seem infinite, expressing a full palette of sensations and feelings.
Gaspar Claus is a cellist like no other. He started with classical music, then forked and worked with Rover, with Serge Teyssot-Gay (Noir Désir), with Rone, with Barbara Carlotti...
Stronger from all those associations, he releases at last his 1st real solo album... in which you’d swear to hear 100 musicians, 100 instruments. But no! Everything’s played by Gaspar with his sole cello, placing the different parts on top of each other. Plus a singing bird who joined the recording through the opened window!
The word is entirely instrumental, except a few sentences in Arabic pronounced by Lyna Zouaoui ("Mer des Mystères Amoureux").
Speaking of sea, Tancade is a wild French cove to the south of Banyuls-sur-Mer (near Perpignan) where he is from, which gave rise to surprising photo shoot (see sleeve and booklet).
From the outset, like when you place a shell to your ear when you’re a child, you can hear the sea! Literally.
Then the backwash moves on to a crowd ("Une Foule"), lively (especially at 2:16), then to all sorts of hummings and weird sounds, all played by the artist. For he also seeks to avoid the “plain sound”, the “beautiful sound”, sometimes, to experiment. “Do-it-yourselfer means musician”, he claims.
Even a little out of tune ("E.T.") but, at this level of mastery (he’s been playing the instrument since he was 5), it’s impossible to think it wasn’t intentional. Yet this piece is extremely tuneful. Isn’t it said cello is the instrument which is the closest to human voice?
At the other end, nice feat of technique and velocity, the incredible "2359" reminds more of the cimbalom.
And what a good surprise to realise that friend Villeneuve, of whom I loved the album Dry Marks of Memory, among others, co-wrote a piece (the very wide "1999"). Obviously, we are in good company!
Whistling, blowing, it’s windy ("Astragale", "Un Rivage"), the glissandos, fascinating, are his trademark.
Listen. Listen well, love isn’t only contained in love songs (if at all, not always): but you can find some in Gaspar Claus’ music.
In concert, the artist likes to manoeuvre in a half-light. To help with kindling the spectator’s imagination, probably.
All imagination can do with a cello is just staggering.
I find long the final of "Ô Sélénites" (the inhabitants of the moon), in which not much occurs whereas the main body of the piece is so great – but the composer is comfortable with the fact that pieces don’t end where they began, and even... that they don’t keep their promises (!)
Only cover of the album, "E.T." (standing for "Extra Terre") is the longest track with its 6 minutes. It takes its time indeed to start, to get to the melody.
Finally, "Mer des Mystères Amoureux", which pleasantly closes the album with a lot of atmosphere, could have dragged on beyond its 4:19 without nobody picks holes.