May 16, 2019
This feels like an album which should inspire poetry, rather than a review. Michaël Attias’ first solo album is an incredibly beautiful, patient, delicately unfurling recording, an intimate duo for alto saxophone and piano played by one person simultaneously.
Attias explores a variety of approaches to the combination of sax and piano. Some pieces explore chords held with one hand while alto lines entwine with the other. The haunting Grass is a duo for sax and the reverberance of the inside of a dampened piano, and Circles similarly explores the piano resonance, sometimes combined with circular breathing on the sax. Other pieces, Trinité and Wrong Notes especially, explore shades of intonation that suggest Monk’s magical capacity to bend the notes of a piano.
The whole album is essentially freely improvised, although several of the pieces draw on material Attias has explored before, such as some compositions he wrote for a theatre production and a chord voicing he was shown by the late, great Masabumi Kikuchi (Attias recorded with Kikuchi both on the pianist’s own albums and with Paul Motian). There is a wonderful lack of showiness about the whole thing, an unhurried melodicism that makes me think of Steve Lacy and Lol Coxhill while remaining truly individual.
I’ve reviewed Attias’ work on this site before, and am a long-standing fan. This solo album deepens my respect even further, one of the most beautiful and unusual new albums I’ve heard in a long time.
– Olie Brice