CD review

CD REVIEW: Vincent Peirani – Living Being II – Night Walker

Vincent Peirani – Living Being II – Night Walker 
(ACT. 9858-2. CD Review by Alison Bentley)

What brings together Sonny and Cher, Henry Purcell and Led Zeppelin? All are featured on Award-winning French accordionist Vincent Peirani’s new album. His five-piece Living Being band draws on jazz, rock and classical elements in these, as well as his own compositions.

Peirani learned accordion partly by transcribing classical pieces for accordion, and his arrangements of the rock pieces are perfectly detailed miniatures. Sonny and Cher’s Bang Bang keeps the ’60s feel but leans towards French chanson. There’s lots of space for Peirani to draw emotion from the plaintive melody. Peirani’s Opening forms a trilogy with his versions of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir and Stairway to Heaven. Slow and thoughtful, it prepares the ear with similar cadences to the rock pieces, gently underpinned by Julien Herné’s electric bass. Kashmir opens with Emile Parisien’s achingly beautiful soprano sax. Its oriental inflections among temple bells evoke India over Yoann Serra’s freely thundering drums. The accordion takes the vocal line subtly behind Parisien’s improvising. The rock feel is developed by Tony Paeleman’s excellent keyboard solo, with its distorted tone. Paeleman plays the classic ascending arpeggios to Stairway To Heaven (look, no guitars); there’s a gentle folk feel to the arrangement that recalls Breton harpist Alan Stivell. Purcell’s chord sequence in What Power Art Thou, from his opera King Arthur is a gift to jazz musicians. Peirani’s arrangement has an orchestral feel, with rock bass and a keening, powerful soprano solo from Parisien that tumbles through the arpeggios.

Other tracks are by Peirani. Enzo layers emotive accordina/sax lines laced together over Radiohead-esque keyboard and guitar (Herné.) Night Walker is densely packed with restless musical ideas: urgent funky bass; overarching rock drums; squelchy keyboard; delicate sax and accordion squeals. The spacey synths of K2000 follow, a complex theme leaping up and down over a stomping funk-rock beat. Falling and Unknown Chemistry are gentler, gorgeously elegant folk-edged melodies. The latter increases intensity through exquisite accordion chords, till the angular phrases of Parisien’s solo reach boiling point. The adagio Smoke & Mirrors adds new textures: Valentin Liechti’s trailing electronic sounds and Peirani’s voice. A favourite is Le Clown Sauveur De La Fête Foraine, evoking a quirky fairground waltz with its precariously fast accordion/sax trills, atonal bass and skittish drumming.

Peirani calls this band a “chamber rock music orchestra”, and the album has the energy of rock allied to careful orchestration and jazz improvisation. “My speciality is that I’m not a specialist. I’m always curious about music and I try to play music in my way,” he’s said. And this dazzling album has his own distinctive stamp on it.

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