Sidony Box play what they call, ‘music of the moment’, revelling in free- form spontaneity which leaves the listener wondering just where they will go next.
Nothing is predictable, except perhaps the opening blast of cacophony and the meditative finish which tops and tails a challenging album. Just like their more accessible counterparts, Sidony Box still need an inner structure and a coherent finish.
It’s something of a surprise then that the evolving horn led groove of the jazzy ‘Girafe’ appears to be very structured, before drummer Arthur Narcy leads the trio into angular diversions followed by some inspired alto sax explorations by Elie Dalibert and an exhilarating finish.
Most of this album has as essential joie de vivre, as the intense triumvirate bravely let go and see where their unfettered interplay takes them. It’s a shape shifting, hard hitting album, but with different moods and textures that incorporate quiet to loud dynamics between some tracks. As is often case, when you’ve heard a whole album some of the contributing pieces make more sense.
The opening track ‘Rules’ is a contrary piece that appears to indulge in the exact opposite of its title, as the trio explodes into a cacophonous intro in which all the three instruments struggle to find space. But there’s a slight pause leading to a meandering sax led spiral over heavy metal thunder and an elongated outro
The breathless cacophony is revisited on the heavy King Crimson style ‘Dark Wizzard’, where manic guitar squalls and dissonant horn lines create an oblique wall of metallic intensity. Having established such an impenetrable wall of noise the trio have to work hard to try and maintain it. They do this through stop-start dynamics, and an up tempo guitar line that leads the horn into a completely new direction as the band really fly by the seat of their pants.
One way to approach the music is to interpret the interplay as speech patterns, but without conventional structure. But just when you think you’ve got a handle on their wide ranging explorations the band bring everything down on the gentle acoustic and flute intro of ‘Nocturnum’. This beautiful piece slowly unfolds in a wave of sonorous horn notes, chiming guitar lines, and thunderous cymbals in a free flowing progression that is one of the best tracks on the album.
‘Electric Love’ is a much more accessible melodic groove with a tension busting horn and guitar arc, as part of the most pronounced melodic sweep on the album.
‘Salsa’ is another free- form piece full of exploratory noises, an ascending horn line and all manner of delicate percussion. Its the kind of track you have to immerse yourself in rather than try to make sense of, while ‘Gotham’ is all guitar strings bathed in echo reverb and is a sister track to ‘Nocturnum’
The notes resonate around the studio to create an sense grandeur. But the moment passes quickly, fractured by electronic noises as part of a nightmare storm, before gently subsiding to a quiet fade out.
‘Block Party’ is powered by some punk vibrancy and spirited jazzy sax lines, as the trio rock out with a real sense of urgency and spirit. Somewhere in the distant past Gong might have tackled a piece like this.
‘Ambre’ provides a fitting reflective ending, as a long piercing note leads us to quietude; the trio’s bluster apparently spent.
Review by Pete Feenstra
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