There are a thousand ways to paint a picture. During the Renaissance, any work of art had to more or less adhere to a specific canon and respect precise rules depending on whether it concerned a church altarpiece, a battle scene or the portrait of a noble patron. It is thus that the artist's personality revealed itself through the minute liberties taken with the accepted model: a background detail, an original perspective, or an exchange of glances between the characters became clues to the identity of a great master. By contrast, 20th century painters experimented with radically open forms, to the point of embracing chance and contingency into their art. "I wait for what I call the 'accident'," said Francis Bacon, "the patch from which the painting emanates."
It is probably because his work encompasses both 16th century composers as well as the most contemporary improvisation that we could say that Philippe Mouratoglou's path lies at the crossroads of these different approaches. In music, like painting, everything is a question of the starting point and the way in which it is developed. In certain cases, it could simply be an existing composition, like Jimmy Rowles' famous standard The Peacocks, immortalized by the pianist's collaboration with Stan Getz in 1975. While the guitar and double bass stay close to the theme, allowing its mysterious beauty to speak for itself, the elusive rhythmic punctuation by Ramón López creates a new background, revealing the relief of the melody under new light. With Ricercare XXXVIII, by the great lutist Francesco Canova da Milano (1497-1543), the trio's capacity for reinvention discreetly pervades a work that is itself very free (a scored improvisation?), like the infinite regress of an act of spontaneous creation re-enacted five centuries later. As for Inventions sur Curumim, the original song by Brazilian singer/songwriter Djavan appears only as a snippet of memory, the pretext for the creation of a new piece.

It is indeed an original form of writing – often very precise – that guides the music through most of these tracks. But it is a form of writing that, in its very mode of creation, ceaselessly seeks to surprise itself and break free of all too well-established patterns. Since the 2012 recording of "Steady Rollin' Man - Echoes of Robert Johnson", his homage to the legendary bluesman, Philippe Mouratoglou has largely used open tunings, abandoning the traditional E-A-D-G-B-E tuning for other combinations of intervals. Like the "long, immense and reasoned derangement of all the senses" extolled by Rimbaud, this calculated derangement of the guitar's standard tuning opens the way to explore new poetic landscapes, a little like painting blindfolded: the absence of standard fingerings and the surrender of any automatic reflexes create the conditions for the unexpected to spring forth, an unlikely harmonic combination, like the "accident" that Bacon so eagerly sought. Of course, the choice of the instrument – in most cases here a traditional steel-string guitar by George Lowden – also has its importance: could we imagine the crepuscular ambience of Bleu Sahara or Fleurs obscures born anywhere but in the depths of a baritone guitar, tuned a fourth below standard tuning?

Freely improvised in the studio, the duets entitled Capricornes and Shamisen invite us to enter the heart of the creative process, opening the way to an extraordinary variety of colors and nuances. In the first, the initial idea first evokes a prelude of ancient music, soon enriched by unexpected bowing by Bruno Chevillon, before fading away in a cloud of harmonics. In the second, the use of an unusual tuning and a pick that was lying around the studio, the energy of the moment and the intensity of the connection with the drums were enough to engender a singular musical world that only as an afterthought evokes the far-eastern stringed instrument that gives the work its title.
All listeners will feel it: creation here is affirmed above all as a collective act. Since the release of "Univers-Solitude", the first album by this trio of funambulists, their mutual complicity has not ceased to deepen, to the point of fearlessly leaping across the barriers separating the written score from improvisation. In this triangular space, a weave of multiple interactions, silhouettes of shade and light stand out against fascinating landscapes, like a vast fresco that is imperceptibly sketched before our eyes, long matured and yet born of the moment.


Philippe Mouratoglou: acoustic guitars, compositions

Bruno Chevillon: double bass

Ramón López: drums


Vision Fugitive

Revue de presse

11-04-2021 Trio

Ricercare - Philippe Mouratoglou

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