Poker Of Boubaker

Heddy Boubaker sent me four records he’s involved in as a performer (plus an excellent CD by Guillaume Viltard – Running Away – reviewed a while ago) in 2009 or so. I hereby thank him, for the patience and for some tremendous music contained by these small but precious gifts. Although all these discs feature Boubaker as saxophonist, he’s been playing analogue synth modules and bass in recent times due to health issues preventing him to use reed instruments (hopefully not for long).

PHAT – La Grande Peste

Boubaker on alto and bass sax with drummer Fabien Duscombs and bassist Marc Perrenoud. Initially one wonders if the band name is a homage to Fat – another trio producing highly charged recordings 22 years ago or so – but the French threesome can handle things themselves with appreciable clout. A title like “The Great Purgatory Of Dead Porn Stars” is enough for me to give praise (just kidding, it’s also a thrilling piece of versatile improvisation). The playing is vibrant all the way through and neurotic more often than not, both Boubaker and Perrenoud apparently bitten by the tarantula of atonal free-jazz-rock, occasionally attempting some hysterically inhospitable riff à la Massacre. There are spots of sinister quietness (“La Fête Des Blattes”) but the instruments are still played in order to let people hear actual pitches, not exclusively liquefied farts. I very much dig Duscombs’ systematic hammering on the tight skin of his snare amidst the many facets of an involving hyperactivity, and – in general – the occlusive sense of never-ending anger (exploding or less) permeating the entire record. Nearly perfect at 35 minutes. (Insubordinations)


Dialogues for trumpet, radio and objects (Ulher) and alto sax (Boubaker). Want sticky fluid materials, hisses, groans, micro-noises and oral stimulation of embouchures? No, you don’t need to surf the web in search of downloads about the sexual intercourse of African mammals. Upside Down represents the “dirtier” side of “silent” EAI – it’s not that silent, on a second thought – in which the amplification of the smallest details is what produces the acoustic substances that manage to snatch our interest. Apart from the classic choked pitches replete with upper partials that make your aural conduits feel damp by saliva droplets, Ulher and Boubaker seem interested to the generation of rhythmic patterns – albeit irregular – within the very structure of their emissions. Variations are introduced by the modification of amplitude that the blowing comrades produce by varying the opening of the mouth, making some of these tiny winds appear like if they were enhanced by a flanger. In the final track, the air gurgles and morphs its shapes inside a bucket of water. Not exactly shocking stuff nowadays, but this is definitely a legitimate paradigm of such a type of invasive instrumental investigation. (Why Not?)


Comrades of Boubaker (on alto) in this magnificent escapade from conformity are Nusch Werchowska (piano and objects) and Mathias Pontévia (horizontal drums). These are live improvisations recorded in Rennes and Bordeaux; the sense of danger typical of a “without-the-net” situation causes an immediate response that is pretty evident from the somewhat violent attack of the initial “Parsec”, which almost made us predict a free-for-all session. But it was not to be. The musicians swiftly find a level of intercommunication based on a type of subdued hostility, often flowing into minutes of pure brilliance masked with poverty-stricken, chip-on-a-shoulder attitude; the demonstration that one just needs the right kind of motivation to engender vibrations that last. There’s some fabulous stuff in “Plus Près”, metallically enhanced piano notes complemented by sounds that, even if produced by a reed instrument and percussion, rather appear as emissions from a polluting plant, all sorts of squeaks and bubbles amidst noxious air currents. In general, this trio seems pushed by a series of threatening premonitions, oriented as they are to let their concern with the weight of each sound filter through every instrumental gesture. Various sinisterly resounding incidents – spiced with twisted puffs, sloshing flaps, snarky snorts and bitter chirps – demonstrate how valid certain concepts of post-Cage philosophies could still be if people actually played. This is a gorgeous album containing a number of episodes that have nothing to envy to AMM; the rest – meaning the noise – is exciting enough for a full endorsement. Get a copy by any necessary means, and understand this reviewer’s frustration as he discovers gems like this in horrible delay after having wasted precious time with lots of useless bullshit before. (Petit Label)

SOIZIC LEBRAT / HEDDY BOUBAKER – Accumulation D’Acariâtre Acariens

This time Boubaker unfolds mysteries and subplots simultaneously to a cellist whom, unfortunately one should say, I had never heard of before listening to this CD. Archetypal ingredients of the quietest sort of improvisation do appear, but they get utilized with adroitness and common sense. Timbral feebleness, structural fickleness and total confidence in the grasping of the colleague’s proposals make sure that the conversation’s level remains full of meanings – disguised or less. Unexplained mutations of ambience are produced by the kind of inquisitive variation that causes an instrument to reveal its concealed facets. There are all sorts of malformed pitches, micro-murmurs, inside flutters and snaking upper partials; and yet the music leaves a quantity of ample spaces, without reverting to the standard hypocrisy of “silence”. Liberating the deepest intuitions that musicians keep in custody is fundamental, and both Lebrat and Boubaker demonstrate that surrendering the ego to the necessity of a consciousness-expanding introversion is an obligatory choice if we want to maintain some seriousness in an area that, in subsequent years (the pieces herein were recorded in 2008), has become a mere receptacle of sacerdotal postures. (Petit Label)

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