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Cédric Theys — Légèreté de l'Être
(Bandcamp Mad Ducks Records MDR20, 2022, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-06-05

Légèreté de l'Être Cover art

Cedric Theys is a French born — now resident in Texas — composer and multi-instrumentalist. The last time we caught up with him he had just released Sirius, a duo with his brother Alban (now residing in Belgium, I believe), though that album and Cedric’s new release Légèreté de l'Être couldn’t be more different. It’s a prime example of the philosophy of never doing the same thing twice. Although he has a background of playing eight-string touch guitar, and bass and guitar before that, here he doesn’t play any instruments at all, serving exclusively as the album’s composer and producer; the performance handled by various subsets of the Colorado Chamber Orchestra, from a duet all the way up to an octet, using a five-piece mallet percussion section (marimbas, vibraphones, glockenspiels), celesta, piano, soprano voice (on “Machine Pensante”), clarinet, bass clarinet, and oboe. At the core of each piece is the mallet percussion and celesta, complex interlocking mathematical figures that push each piece forward with a soft and gentle, yet overtly expressive beauty. Many of the pieces are atmospheric as well, with the wind instruments and piano bringing in a strong melodic element that combines well with all of the percussion creating a powerful textural fabric while remaining airy and light. By comparison, one might find these pieces to be similar to the soft gamelan of central Java, although they aren’t limited to the five-note scale, instead encompassing the full seven note scales of western music, but similar mathematics are in play. Or one can think of the mallet quartet of Steve Reich, or Phillip Glass’ work, as influences perhaps. The eleven pieces on the album are intended to bring beauty and grace to the current difficult post-pandemic times (the title translates to Lightness of Being), and on that note Légèreté de l'Être has certainly succeeded, a masterful, gentle, and emotional expression of beauty in sound that one could listen to over and over in a loop and never tire of it. On the Bancamp site one can watch videos of two of the pieces, “Forming Perception” and “Light Being” as they are performed, plus a short interview with the composer. Overall, unusual, interesting, and highly recommended!

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Alban & Cédric Theys

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