Paris Transatlantic

It's been a good year on the Sofa, 2010. In addition to Tetuzi Akiyama, Toshi Nakamura, Espen Reinertsen, Elvind Lønning and Martin Taxt's Selektiv hogst (one of, alas, over a hundred albums here I've thoroughly enjoyed and not – yet – found time to write about) and Ingar Zach's recent wonderfully orchestral solo percussion outing M.O.S., this latest offering from French clarinettist Xavier Charles is definitely one you might want to pick up in the January sales. Recorded in August this year in Brabant sur Meuse and Châlons en Champagne – you may like to websearch for some images of the local landscape to put the field recordings on "Jaune" in some context – it's another splendid showcase of Charles' outstanding technique on his Selmer A clarinet and his masterly feel for space, both intra- (the pieces themselves are beautifully structured) and extra-musical, i.e. how the sounds belong to the world around them: after the superbly recorded "Rouge", the central "Jaune" is a 23-minute study in sustained multiphonics set in the local countryside, and the outside world intrudes discreetly in the closing "Orange" too (passing traffic, a distant church bell, a door opening and closing in the background). As Charles writes in a brief poem that serves as liner notes: "Listening to the world is a world as vast as the world itself."