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Cédric Theys — Colour Spectrum
(Mad Ducks Records, 2023, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-09-17

Colour Spectrum Cover art

I have to confess to not having heard that much music by Cédric Theys. 2019’s Sirius, which he recorded with his brother Alban playing drums was my introduction, then 2015’s Imagur and Rugami by his duo DIM13NSION, his ambient work Eternity’s Antechamber, and then last year we reviewed Légèreté de l'Être. His new recording at hand, Colour Spectrum, is like none of those I’ve heard before it, a sure sign that Theys’ creative wheels have a lot more tread on their tires, and so we go with it. Starting with guitar, and then graduating to bass, which he played in various bands for the better part of the last 25 years, he began playing the eight-string touch guitar about seven years ago and now plays that almost exclusively, and although he is fluent on a number of different instruments, the U8 is what he plays here, along with a bit of glockenspiel. Joining him in this endeavor are Deborah Schmit-Lobis on piano, Elsbeth Williams on bass clarinet, and Troy Jones on drums and glockenspiel, with all of the material composed by Theys. If, on paper, this sounds like a chamber ensemble, one would be correct in that presumption, at least some of the time — the bass clarinet and glockenspiel certainly make a convincing argument, but the drums, piano, and U8 often team up to take the sound in some different, very eclectic directions, which seem to be rooted in classical ideas with other elements influencing the whole in an experimental way, definitely non-rock, though absolutely progressive. Grooves emerge at times, but quickly morph and grow into something more expansive, or decay into a gentle melodic stir. The intrepid listener is kept wondering where each piece is going to go next, with interesting ideas blossoming around every new corner. “Coding Shades” offers a more aggressive sound, with drums crashing and U8 and bass clarinet driving a harder groove, but this is still very far from rock. “Transluscent Rainbow” offers an exceptional quilt of crisscrossing melody such that it’s one of the album’s most memorable, with “Invisible Light” recapping the main theme in a different setting. “Silver Sands” wanders through a cavern of mysterious angles and sudden surprises as it all proceeds. Ten tracks in all, and some of the most interesting compositions and arrangements one might ever imagine. Recommended for fans of Univers Zero, Asceta, Art Zoyd, Far Corner, and the like. 

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Alban & Cédric Theys

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