Michel Ettori — Higher Life
(Musea MP 3022.AR, 1995, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 1996-03-01
Some may remember Ettori's name from the lineup of the late 70s Magma spinoff Weidorje, he was the band's guitarist. He also appeared on follow-up albums by Jean-Philippe Goude and Patrick Gauthier, and also has some roots in Heldon, but from the early 80s onward little has been heard from him – a classic case of 'whatever happened to that guy, anyway?' In 1980, he became a follower of Sri Aurobindo, and left France to live in an experimental township near Pondichery (a French settlement in India), which is where most of the music for Higher Life was written. In late '86 he returned to France and recorded the music here with old friends Patrick Gauthier (keys) and Didier Batard (bass), but couldn't find a label willing to release it at that time. After this – due to other projects related to his work in India, Ettori gave up the guitar for over seven years, returning to the studio in '93 to record the two tracks that open and close this album. The music here is an instrumental acoustic based jazz-rock in the general style of folks like Al DiMeola, very technical and perfected, with an occasional Indian theme coming to the surface. Gauthier and Batard's roles are mostly supportive, though some nice keyboard solos make their way to the fore on several tunes. Those who are hoping for hints of his zeuhl days will be sadly disappointed, as there is nary a trace of that style on this album anywhere. Some of the tunes use sequenced electronic percussion, though most won't find their use objectionable, especially given the overwhelming dominance of Ettori's guitar. Some may enjoy this a lot – there is certainly much to recommend it, but there is a certain 'sameness' throughout that might give it limited shelf life over the long haul.
Glenn Branca RIP – Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans. » Read more
OBEY Convention XI Set for May 24-28 in Halifax – As the 2018 festival season rapidly approaches, we’d like you to be aware of a real treasure of diverse and creative music that’s going to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next month. The OBEY Convention is on its 11th outing, and features a wide range of artists from around the world. From avant-industrial noise to experimental takes on Classical Chinese music, from chamber jazz to doom metal, from ambient soundscapes to Canadian First Nations drumming, you’d be hard pressed to find a festival with more variety in sound anywhere in the world. » Read more
Close to the Rain Festival in Bergen Announces Lineup – Now in its second year, the Close to the Rain Festival of progressive music is scheduled to take place in Bergen, Norway, on June 7 - 9. They've got an amazing slate of bands lined up, including such powerhouses as Anekdoten, Major Parkinson, Arabs in Aspic, Tusmørke, and many more. » Read more
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington and Oregon. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more