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Jean Pascal Boffo — La Boîte à Musique
(Musea FGBG 4777.AR, 2007, CD)

by Paul Hightower, Published 2008-10-01

La Boîte à Musique Cover artOn La Boîte à Musique, guitarist Jean Pascal Boffo demonstrates yet again why he’s France’s answer to Steve Hackett. With every album, he reinvents himself into something new and yet familiar. With this one, Boffo returns to the intimacy of solo acoustic guitar as the centerpiece for each of the 12 tracks. Gorgeously warm, pastoral atmospheres spring forth that echo Anthony Phillips or Hackett circa Bay of Kings. Boffo shares Hackett’s sense of improvisation, letting himself wander through myriad connecting refrains and soliloquies that don’t necessarily evoke a compositional form, but manage to gel nonetheless. About half the tracks are truly solo renditions, though others such as the gorgeous opener “Un pont sur l’infini“ or “De l’autre côté du vent” employ a layered, multi-instrumental approach that begins with solo acoustic guitar, but then adds in additional guitars ranging from acoustics to ethereal electric guitar lines run backwards, creating an almost haunting backdrop. Boffo moves through some nuanced emotional and harmonic territory, sometimes evoking a lazy, hot summer’s day and at other times threatening the reverie with more ambiguous modalities, as on the title track. He sometimes uses a more expressionist brush, as on “La Ballerine” with its dance-like energy, or “Quiet Christmas” that would sound perfect on a cold winter’s day with a log on the fire. Fans of Hackett’s introverted acoustic side or even the ECM minimalism of someone like Steve Tibbetts will especially find much to enjoy here, and I can otherwise give this one an easy recommendation.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 36, 2007 releases

Related artist(s): Jean Pascal Boffo

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