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Jean-luc Fafchamps

KDGhZ2SA

(Sub Rosa; US: 10 Apr 2012; UK: 19 Mar 2012)

Belgian composer Jean-Luc Fafchamps writes in an appealingly post-everything style, with diatonic minimalist gestures butting up against wheezy microtonal drones and so forth. Fafchamps’s latest muse is the Arabic alphabet, specifically a Sufi chart assigning certain characteristics to the various letters; he’s in the midst of writing an ode to each letter. This progress report documents a concert performance of his first “word”, which is—how about that?—paced like a concert.


“K” opens the show with big, gregarious horn fanfares, string flourishes, and heavy percussion; the lighter “D” contrasts pinched ostinatos with colorful clarinet and percussion runs. “Gh” slows everything down to a 14-minute gasp before a distorted oboe concerto and pastoral woodwind feature carry us through to the brawling open-form finale, which incorporates some of what we’ve already heard. Despite the conventional shape of the program, the individual “letters” don’t develop like musical narratives; they communicate a sense of stasis, even as their unique timbres and effects keep them revolving in your mind’s eye.

Rating:

Josh Langhoff is a church musician. He's written about music for The Village Voice, The Singles Jukebox, two EMP Pop Conferences, his church newsletter, and his blogs NorteñoBlog and Surfing in Babylon.


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Jean-luc Fafchamps - K
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26 Apr 2011
The overall effect is somewhat chilling, but not in a scary way. It's sort of like being in a bare room where the walls are all painted white.
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