Nicolas Godin: Contrepoint

review godin x1 cong

Godin is half of Air (insert molecule joke here) and he’s based this new album on Glenn Gould, who was obsessed with Johann Sebastian Bach. Gould’s award-winning CDs include a version of The Goldberg Variations that is possibly one of the best albums ever made, in any genre.
Gould is noted for his rejection of the conventional and his eccentricities. His renditions of Bach are good because of his unorthodox interpretations.
He also commented that the justification of art was the “internal combustion it ignites in the hearts of men” and said art was not “a momentary ejection of adrenaline” but a gradual construction of “a state of wonder and serenity”.
It’s possible that it’s the latter Godin is aiming at, as this album tries to be serene and, we suspect, create a state of wonder, as well as being eccentric and unconventional.
Opener Orca has some kind of flutey sound — the song of the whale, at a wild guess — before there’s a riffy synth-as-strings-as-guitar interpretation of a Bach arrangement. (Each track uses a Bach piece as its source).
Gould is Godin’s muse and appears speaking some words, too, these words coming in Widerstehe doch der Sünde, the second track, a gently plodding tune with lyrics in German. This one is basically putting drums to classical music, but works ok.
Club Nine has a bluesy jazz vibe (there’s a nod to Take Five we feel, and Dave Brubeck was of course a fan of Bach himself, releasing Brubeck Meets Bach).
Clara is more Latin (citing Stan Getz might be going too far though he, too, was fond of Bach). Glenn goes a bit Chariots of Fire before settling down while later on, Bach Off shows that while French punnery is poor, they can knock out a nice sax solo, reminiscent of Dark Side Of The Moon. This song is a bit prog, though the piano/percussion could be from Moonflower-era Santana. As we say, eccentric.
Talking of the French: Contrepoint is a very French album. Chunks of it would make the soundtrack to a slightly arty film where there was less dialogue but a lot of running about in fields to dreamy music.
It’s got that thing that French music has, of not being terribly cool — as well as an arty film, parts of this could be taken from The Saint, starring Roger Moore. But he’s French, so though it’s from the 70s, it still sounds cool. Damn the French, sounding cool while not making cool music.
But it’s interesting, and even flawed efforts can work if they’re interesting.
We don’t think it will do much for classical music fans but there’s a fair amount of jazz, so open-minded jazz fans might find much to enjoy, as well those of you who love the eccentric.

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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