Saxophonist Mulo Francel is well known (though not to us; we won’t pretend) for his work with platinum-selling jazz/world quartet Quadro Nuevo; Gall is a fifth member for live gigs. Kulturnews magazine credits Francel with the “most sensuous saxophone sound in Europe”.
The idea of this album apparently began at the end of a hard climb on Samos, close to the sea of Icarus, hence the title.
The inspiration comes from Greek characters (Ikarus’ Dream, Dido’s Lament, Sketches of Styx are all track titles) and, as well as first queen of Carthage and the river of the underworld, characters from the modern world: opener is Yorke’s Guitar, presumably for Radiohead Thom.
Musically, it’s nominally jazz, though that’s indicated more by the standard of the playing and their ability to work together than the sound they make. It’s actually hard to define the music: in some places it sounds like a gentle interlude on a Genesis album, in others it goes a bit Four Tet (whose Kieran Hebden has recently worked with a jazz drummer and Mr Yorke), in others it’s hypnotic and ambient — stick a beat on it and it would be an Ibiza house classic. Despite only having piano and sax, rest assured it never goes anywhere near Kenny G.
Yorke’s Guitar opens with tranquil piano, one hand playing an Ibiza rhythm, the other a gentle melody. The sax then picks up the melody. It’s relaxing; presumably it’s meant to represent Radiohead’s more hypnotic moments. Palinuro (small town in Italy, named for Palinurus, the helmsman of Aeneas) is next, and while it’s still gentle, it’s a bit edgier and more bustling; we guess they want to avoid (and succeed) sounding like easy listening.
Die 7 Weisen is next (you’re clever so you know weisen are sages) and this time the sax leads, mournfully and slowly, the piano again a drumbeat away from the chillout Ibiza crowd.
There is some variation: Reality Check is noticeably bop in sound, Dido’s Lament a more late-night jazz track, Sketches of Styx lugubrious. The CD closes with a live track, Old Folks, again a late-night sound.
Overall: a little unvarying but they change the sound enough to make it interesting. It’s as much ambient as jazz but songs like Old Folks suggest it’s meant to be played at night, in the dark; an early Francel album featured music from Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto.
This is out on Fine Music. Buy from them or the link below.
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