Charles-Eric Charrier is a French bassist and pianist mining the remote seams of music between post-classical, jazz, acoustic blues and ambient. Hidden or distant those seams may be, but all the richer for those who take the time to seek them out. Echoes of innovative artists like Earth, Anouar Brahem, Bohren und der Club of Gore, Chet Baker or even Malian musicians such as Ali Farka Toure and Tinariwen sometimes appear on the horizon, only to disappear at the next turn. Charrier’s music as band-leader on Petite Soeur, his first release for Gizeh Records, is endlessly yearning and searching, pushing and pulling at the basic fabric of bass, piano, drums and guitar.
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Repetition, space and a sublime understanding of how instruments speak with each other are the key fundamentals in this album. Witness the patient guitar that opens No Closed To Be, taking its own sweet time before first acoustic bass and then percussion fall into line behind. And the narcotic, late-night jazz of the title track with drums, piano and Fender Rhodes slurring around Charrier’s steady bass pulse. Or the gradual build of Instant/Moment into a sustained, pulse-like drive before pausing, exhausted by the sun on the plains, and then collapsing into a mesmerising swirl of woodwind, organ, piano and bowed drones.
Petite Soeur may be all-instrumental, but we can hear Charrier’s voice as clear as a bell. It is defined by empathy and clarity. In its own way, this is soul music.