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Mowgli — Gueule de Boa
(BMC CD 308, 2023, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2024-02-26

Gueule de Boa Cover art

Mowgli is a relatively new band from Toulouse featuring Ferdinand Doumerc (sax, flute) and Pierre Pollet (drums) of Pulcinella. The two are teamed up with keyboardist Bastien Andrieu, and there are definite stylistic similarities with Pulcinella. Virtually nothing is off limits for these guys — they’ll be playing a smooth groove one moment, then erupt into a passage full of jagged accents, or an eerie atmospheric section will jump into a distorted off-kilter jam. Some tracks include precisely worked out interlocking jabs of notes with a decidedly mathy flavor, but others tend toward more minimalist fare. Without guitar or bass in the band, there’s a clean sound even when the music gets messy; Andrieu uses synths for the low end, but favors relatively pure tones for the most part. Many of the keyboard sounds are patterned after a Rhodes electric piano, but they’re often mangled in one way or another to provide an edgy tone. Pollet’s drumming is sometimes rudimentary, but can also include really tricky odd-meter parts that are quite impressive, all depending on the needs of the piece. While the tracks are obviously the result of very detailed arrangement and rehearsal, there’s plenty of room for improvisation and chance, so everything sounds very fresh and spontaneous. There aren’t a lot of obvious overdubs, so I have no doubt that Mowgli live would sound very much like Mowgli in the studio (barring the variation in the improvised parts, of course). “Bicouic Orbidède” is the most impressive track on the album, with some of the most complex rhythms, though they manage to make it all relatively accessible, and it builds to a really dramatic climax. In a way, it doesn’t sound like they end up being complex because they’re seeking it out — it just seems to come naturally to them, as if they’re unaware that most music isn’t like this. Guele de Boa is a lot of fun for adventurous listeners, well worth checking out.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Mowgli


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