L'ocelle Mare CD reviewed by Howard Wuelfing

Music Reviews
L'ocelle Mare CD reviewed by Howard Wuelfing
Apr 20, 2009, 09:12

L'Ocelle Mare - s/t


“L'ocell Mare is the solo project from Thomas Benvalet, guitarist from Cheval de Frise.” (I just love/hate it when writers quote press releases without attribution).  Benvalet performs a series of essentially unaccompanied acoustic guitar pieces in wildly varying settings: an abandoned church, old rock quarry etc. One assumes he is seeking inspiration as much as the particular acoustic peculiar to each.

What results is remarkable music—abstract, expressionistic yet extremely coherent. Benvalet manages to keep his balance atop that high wire of severe experimentalism where the player eschews recognizable melodies, set meter and overall structure that the majority of musicians topple from immediately leaving naught but a splattered mess. Benvalet manages to embroider his wild and wooly skein of improvisation and exploration with a subtle but unmistakable sense of identity, passage by passage with each of these cunningly rendered relevant to one another resulting in a viable sense of song per se.

More than anything L'ocelle Mare recalls John McLaughlin's pre-Mahavishnu outing My Goals Beyond—perhaps invested with a bracing touch of added spasticity. Very refreshing. [Sick Room]

-Howard W.


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