Genre/Influences: Experimental, free-jazz.
Background/Info: Atonalist is a French duo consisting of multi-instrumentalists Renaud-Gabriel Pion (collaborator of John Cale, Dead Can Dance, Siouxsie, Hector Zazou, Björk and may more…) and Arnaud Fournier (member of Hint, La Phaze, Dead Hippies). They have been joined on vocals by Gavin Friday, the legendary singer of The Virgin Prunes.
Content: I didn’t know what to expect starting the listening of this album, but the only presence of Gavin Friday made it pretty intriguing. Atonalist have composed an album, which clearly sounds experimental and into a free-jazz style. They played on numerous acoustic instruments, accentuating some authenticity although the jazz style becomes sometimes pretty chaotic. You clearly hear passages played by piano, saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, guitar… but also a noticeable experimental part created by electronics.
Gavin Friday is singing on 5 from the 12 songs. His particular timbre of voice remains very unique, like injecting a mysterious flavor into the work.
+ + + : You’d better get a bit more familiar with jazz and/or experimental music to fully enjoy this work. I experienced “Atonalism” as total free-jazz, which makes it pretty experimental. The work is rather varied, but always carried by its experimental and jazzy basis. Joining hands with Gavin Friday is a real interesting experience and the least I can say is that music and vocals together create a sacred symbiosis. I especially recommend discovering “Gottesnabeterin”, which is a great song. Other tracks are more into soundtrack music for a ‘film-noir’ and I here want to tip “The Philosophers’ Argument”.
– – – : The free-jazz style is something particular and less coherent if you’re not into this kind of music. This total minimalistic attitude is not that easy to endure because of the sonic chaos and improvisation.
Conclusion: I’m not familiar reviewing jazz music –even if it’s still pretty experimental, but when I realized that Gavin Friday was involved I became intrigued. I can’t say that I fully enjoyed this work, but it’s an interesting production.
Best songs: “Gottesanbeterin”, “Different To The Others”, “The Road To Perdition”.