Review Summary: This second album by the crazed French saxophonist and his 'Electric Epic' is a brooding zeuhl influenced slice of aggressive jazz fusion that entertains from start to finish.
Guillame Perret is a French saxophonist who has collaborated with many musicians in the fields of jazz and progressive rock. He formed the 'Electric Epic' in 2008 and their debut album followed a year later. His band features a mixture of seasoned musicians including the bass player Philippe Bussonnet from Magma.
With Philippe Bussonnet on board one might expect some zeuhl influences in the music and that is indeed the case with the bass work exhibiting a very dark and oppressive nature. The closest genre description for the music on here would be jazz fusion but it is much more aggressive than the usual fusion fare. There is no hint of mellowness in the music with the more restrained passages keeping with the oppressive and foreboding feel and pure jazz roots of the album as a whole. Perret's electric saxophone can usually be heard floating above the tense rhythms or weaving in and out of the improvised jams and he is indeed an exciting musician to listen to especially on the haunting 'Circe' with its slowly heaving introduction. The song develops with hypnotic bass rhythms and bursts of energetic Eastern African influenced jazzy riffs before abruptly warping into a dense funky jam and building to a manic sax solo. This is the sort of music that refuses to stay still for long and feels endlessly inventive while still retaining a sheen of accessibility in its addictive grooves and transient but memorable hooks.
Album opener 'Kakoum' is a thick slice of zeuhl influenced jazz fusion replete with throbbing bass lines, crazy Thijs van Leer like yodels and vocal harmonies, jagged angular melodies and funky sax interludes. There are some quite heavy moments on this album which include a different version of 'Massacra' which originally appeared on their debut. This almost sounds as though it could be an industrial influenced heavy metal number as it opens with a rolling bass line and a crescendo of electric guitars. Its true nature soon becomes apparent though as we are assaulted with eerie keyboard sounds between doses of power chord riffing. The eastern influenced melodies that dominate the middle of the song manifest as snaky sax soloing which suit the doomy minor key feel of the intense backdrop perfectly. As with a number of the songs on the album Perret lets fly with some crazed sax soloing and it is indeed these contributions from the band leader that elevate the music from its already impressive standing to something that is often a compelling listen.
This album should appeal greatly to anyone with a love of jazz fusion or progressive rock. As I have mentioned already there is a very dark and oppressive feel to the music and it becomes quite heavy in parts so those people who aren't averse to some jazz influenced rock but wouldn't go near anything soft and mellow might also find this a pleasant surprise. The musicianship is exemplary, the inventiveness and sheer energy on show is compelling and the whole brooding nature of the album alongside the intense melodies, rhythms and free jamming leave you wanting more.