The Elite Extremophile
September 09, 2019
Artist: Louis de Mieulle | Album: Side$how | Genre: Progressive rock, Jazz fusion | Year: 2019
From: New York, USA | Label: Dalang Records
For fans of: Return to Forever, Magma, Brainticket, Probably a lot of those jazzy instrumental metal acts I don’t like
Buy: Bandcamp | Apple Music
I’ve been pretty open in my general hesitance toward instrumental albums. I’m not the kind of person to pay attention to lyrics, but the human voice adds so much character to music, which can be quite difficult to make up for with just instruments. I don’t believe I’ve discussed it in any great detail on this site—though I’ve made a few comments about it on Reddit—but I am also not a fan of the current zeitgeist of jazzy, instrumental rock and metal epitomized by acts like Intervals, Plini, and Sithu Aye. So much of it just sounds like aimless, speedy noodling. Thank God this album avoids those pitfalls magnificently.
French-born bassist and composer Louis de Mieulle’s newest album, Side$how, is a constantly-engaging blend of ambitious instrumental progressive rock with many trappings of jazz. Touches of electronic genres and krautrock crop up throughout this release’s 41-minute runtime. Consisting of eight songs, titled “Bed of Nails, Part 1-8”, the music was mostly improvised and recorded live by de Mieulle, a pair of keyboardists, and a drummer.
Just based off this description, I would normally be wary and worried that this would wind up being an aimless morass of electric piano tinkling, but these compositions each have a unique character and feel purposeful. Part 1 opens with a jumpy bassline topped with stuttering organ licks. This evolves into a gliding synth solo before funky clavinet comes in. What is striking is how smooth and organic the transitions feel.
Part 3 feels as if it draws inspiration from video game music while avoiding the bland sterility of chiptune. The bass part is fun, melodic, and propulsive, and the fluttery staccato synth backing only adds to this energy. Part 5, meanwhile, clocking in at over 17 minutes, is the most adventuresome piece on Side$how. Not only does it draw from jazz, but also from krautrock, electronic music, and even zeuhl. The song pulses and throbs over sequenced synthesizers, using repetition with subtle, accruing changes to great effect.
The even-numbered songs on Side$how are all relatively short interludes, ranging from 90 seconds to a bit over two minutes. Despite their short length, they display an impressive amount of diversity, with textures and atmospheres ranging from melodic to dissonant and from gentle to harsh.
Side$how is a fun, upbeat collection of music. Each song on this album has its own distinct character while at the same time feeling like it belongs with the rest. The bass and key tones are consistent across the album, but they don’t become stale, thanks in large part to the musicians’ skillful interplay and de Mieulle’s inventive compositions.
September 03, 2019
Louis de Mieulle
From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website
Louis de Mieulle is a classical and jazz trained composer, bassist and cellist. He has been involved with jazz projects, including his own band "Soundchaser", and has also been releasing solo albums since 2011. His fifth full length solo album, released in August of 2019, is a slight departure from previous albums in that it is a more light-hearted approach to his music. It is also the first of what Louis promises to be a series of "sideshow" style albums. This album, simply called and stylized as "Side$how", is an 8 part-suite entitiled "Bed of Nails". The 8 tracks on the album represent the 8 parts. The runtime for the album is almost 41 minutes.
The band line-up that Louis has recruited along for the ride are himself, playing under the name Sideshow Louis (bass, regurgitator), Casimir Liberski (keyboards and chapeaugraphy), Ditan Kenner (keyboards and human blockhead), Doron Lev (drums for tracks 1-4 and 6 and fire breather), and Raphael Pannier (drums fro tracks 5,7,and 8 and glass walking). The album is recorded live in the studio.
Part 1 of the suite is called "1st Meditation" (5:14). The music starts with a catchy rhythm and an airy feel created by smooth bass, organ, drums and guitar. The organ takes the main spotlight at first shared with a funky guitars and other keys step in to share main melody which is improvised on. There is a nice, carefree atmosphere about the whole thing that, while it is a funky sound, it is also quite relaxed and free flowing. Part 2, "Bedhunters" (1:59) begins with a somewhat complex riff created by bass and synth. A short, yet progressive interplay of instruments create a playful cacophony of sound that dances around with this riff. Part 3 "Discoteak" (6:28) uses a straitforward beat with bass and some interesting keyboard effects to make a track that sounds catchy and complex at the same time. The drums settle in to a fast groove along with the bass, and the organ plays counter to the beat with a staccato style, until synths come in to smooth out the sound a bit. The rhythm breaks down after 3 minutes and the music wanders along with bass and low frequency synths, and then another warbly synth takes over the main line against a slightly slower, but heavier beat. Instruments drop off one by one and then suddenly all come back together again to close out this part.
Part 4 "Fakir Song" (2:11) is less structured, with keyboards creating some interesting counter themes and tones, as the bass and drums try to hammer out some kind of structure, but not really able to iron things out. The feel is a bit more experimental and contemporary jazz style. Part 5 "2nd Meditation" (17:21) is quite a bit longer than the preceding tracks. It starts out taking it's time to establish and a symmetrical groove, and everything works together to eventually come to some sort of agreement. The drums are a bit wilder in this one, and the keys take advantage of this by teasing everything into coming together, while the bass holds its own playing persistently until it does all come together. Louis has been known to incorporate a post rock attitude in his music, and that seems to stand out a little more here, but the track never falls victim to post rock formulas, making sure the jazz fusion sound is the real thing directing the sound. When the instruments finally fall into the groove, the bass becomes the anchor as keyboards swirl and dance around the groove. The bass continues to add notes to its free riffing pattern, and that is the closest thing to a melody here as the synths work to create musical texturing and improvising around that pattern. Subtle layers come in building intensity at different times, but at 8 minutes, you can really hear it all start to build and resolve to a new plateau. After that, it calms down a bit as the synths begin a drone and allow the bass and drums to pound things out together. This continues while the synths start to float around softly and freely. It all quiets down even more as bongos and percussion lighten things up. The track then goes atmospheric with only bass, effects and a single synth flutters around. The music goes into avant-jazz territory for a minute or two, then a repeated note takes over, slowly building the band back in layer by layer until the drums bring everything back. This long track seems to go by quickly because of the territory it covers, never stagnating or staying in one place for too long, experimenting with dynamic and occasional effects, it is an interesting, dynamic and masterful study of control and improvisation.
Part 6 is another section entitled "Fakir Song" (1:26). As in Part 4, this is also a more contemporary jazz feel with a heavier beat this time that follows the same thematic element as Part 4. Part 7 "3rd Meditation" (4:39) then fades back in, again following this same theme, but in a very chaotic way. The entire band is playing, but sounding more independent and free as they all hash out their own sounds, but after 1 minute, it all becomes more coherent, the bass pounds out a line against a more structured drum pattern, and then keys come back in freely playing around the bass line. This very fusion sounding track reminds me of early Porcupine Tree jams, it's more psychedelic and experimental and it also has some really cool grinding effects in the middle. Part 8 "Afrobead" (1:42) ends the entire suite, or at least this album,
This is a nice, playful departure from Louis more serious sound, and I love the nu-jazz elements that are quite eveident here. Each instrument is its own sideshow of sorts, but they all come together (well most of the time anyway) to work as a complete circus, or at least a band with one vision. The way things move from somewhat chaotic sections to smooth and groove filled improvisations is entertaining in and of itself. Some of the shorter tracks, seem to make things a bit choppy, but the long centerpiece of the album, Part 5, brings it all together. First time listeners will wonder how this suite all fits together, but halfway through, you will begin to realize that the suite is using a main theme and creating variations around it, all while other instruments create improvisations with the theme and then create textures and sections that live in a world of their own. When things are left to develop more, the sound is smooth as things transition from one sub-section to another. Even the short tracks are important here, but they do tend to break things up a little bit, but this problem doesn't really distract from the overall cohesiveness of the album. This album is highly recommended, especially to jazz fusion lovers who also like a bit of inventiveness added in for some unexpected surprises.
Divide and Conquer
May 09, 2018
Louis de Mieulle & Matt Garstka
3.9 out of 5
By Rebecca Rothschild
East coast meets west coast wit the dynamic duo of Louis De Mieulle and Matt Garstka. De Mieulle hails from France but is currently residing in New York City. At home in France, he studied classical music and then in the states, educated himself on black American music. Matt Garstka is a drummer living in Los Angeles and has been classified as a drum "superhero." I have no idea how these two met, and they seem perfectly content to deny me that fun little factoid. I don't take offense. I like when there's a little mystery to be solved. These people on the opposite of the country came together to create the album Dual. This is a fascinating and wildly experiment romp of math rock and neoclassical polyphony.
The music is enigmatic and at times downright perplexing. There is a mix of groovy rock vibes combined with electronic synths and sampled elements. I would say there was a section in each of the eight tracks that I enjoyed. While the album may sound a little off the walls, there is a method at work. There is a pattern where the two build up the individual elements that will eventually formulate a few bars of what sounds like traditional music. They will then deconstruct that traditional just as quickly. Sometimes there are some added parties, a few micro experiments within the larger experiment. Some of it is fun to hear and admittedly I found some of it to be downright grating to the ears.
The two have their roles to play. De Mieulle brings these fabulous little grooves into the mix while Garstka explores the not so beaten of percussion methods in all forms. It's a very enigmatic mix that takes me to acid jazz and experimental rock places I have not been before. I think this is an album that will have great appeal for musicians more than anyone else. I can see jazz, experimental and even indie bands being sucked into their construction and deconstruction of everything. I'll say this, as I write this review, I find it strangely ideal to have it playing while working. There's a productivity to the music that is motivating.
I can see a good deal of non-musicians like myself struggling to find the music appealing at all times. As I said there were some sections that weren’t easy on my ears. I think that some changes in the production process may be able to help with that because I don't mind erratic or dizzying movements. The album was recorded, mixed and mastered in New York City.
The big sell on this album is originality and boldness. I would say it's definitely tailored to a very niche market. I respect these two for fully committing to their vision.
Can this even be called Music?
April 04, 2018
Louis de Mieulle & Matt Garstka - DUAL
Bassist and composer Louis de Mieulle‘s album with drummer extraordinaire Matt Garstka is the underground modern jazz album you didn’t know you needed. Dual is based off of Matt’s beats – whether they are improvised or not is unknown –, in a similar fashion to Marco Minnemann’s Normalizer project, I suppose. The beats then serve as the foundation of the songs, and the result is a truly impressionist and modern architecture. Polyrhythms galore, and the harmonic and melodic concepts brought on by Louis and the various guest guitarists are infectious. Awesome album, and I can’t wait for the second part of this concept release, due this summer.
The Progressive Aspect
March 07, 2018
Louis de Mieulle & Matt Garstka - DUAL [EP]
Following on from the rather fine but criminally ignored stars, plants & bugs album in 2015, French nu-fusion maestro Louis de Mieulle has teamed up with American drummer Matt Garstka, best known for his stint with Animals as Leaders. In an unusual set up, Matt recorded 25 minutes of sometimes bewilderingly complex rhythms, after which Louis, with the aid of three guest guitarists, recorded everything else on top. An hour’s worth of music was created, this being the first part. The second will be released later in the year.
The nature of Matt’s rhythms means that the overlaid music is a spidery, hypnotic beast that develops into strange textures and melodies. It is gratifying that amongst all the identikit fusion out there these days that someone is taking risks and forging new paths. If you have an ear for true progressive music, you need to hear this.
Clair & Obscur
October 04, 2015
Louis de Mieulle – Stars, Plants & Bugs
4 OCTOBRE 2015 JAZZ FUSION & ELECTRO-JAZZ
Titre: Stars, Plants & Bugs
Groupe/artiste: Louis de Mieulle
Label: Dalang! Records
Louis de Mieulle est un jeune bassiste français établi à New York. Après un premier album de jazz-fusion aux rythmes contagieux, il nous revient avec ce qui pourrait être considéré comme la bande-son d'un film entomologico-cosmique. Toujours entouré du batteur Matt Garstka (qui officie par ailleurs au sein du désormais culte groupe de metal-fusion Animals As Leaders) et du claviériste versatile et éclectique Casimir Liberski, il a voulu donner une orientation plus féerique à sa musique en s'adjoignant les services du flûtiste Sarpay Özcagatay et du percussionniste Tareq Rantisi. A l'image des mille couleurs et des mille-pattes qui peuplent un monde inspiré de l'école naïve du "Douanier" Rousseau, c'est une musique aux mille mouvements hypnotiques et à tout autant de mélodies charmeuses qui se déroule. En effet, là où la batterie déploie des trésors d'inventivité rythmique étourdissante, la flûte apporte quelques notes de poésie éthérée.
Par ailleurs, face à un fouillis agité signe de l'activité grouillante d'insectes dans une forêt imaginaire, et face à la sérénité imperturbable d'un ciel d'azur, les claviers se posent tantôt en spectateurs tantôt en acteurs opportunistes. Partageant en effet les moments de tendresse de la flûte (le piano lunaire de "Green Hojary"), ils peuvent également appuyer les cadences saccadées de la batterie (l'orgue Hammond exalté dans la suite "Insect Party (aka Soundfreeze #2)"), se retrouvant ainsi dans la même configuration que ces abeilles opportunistes qui butinent au gré de leurs rencontres.
En revanche, les percussions délicates ont choisi d'entrer dans une relation symbiotique avec la voûte céleste, alimentant sa sérénité de la même façon que les arbres des forêts tropicales fournissent aux fourmis arboricoles les ressources énergétiques dont elles ont besoin pour leur survie. A la manière de l'adrénaline montant chez un funambule suspendu dans les airs, ce jeu d'équilibre entre ciel et terre nous donne des frissons.
Avec quelques arrêts sur le regard bienveillant des étoiles d'un ciel immaculé, c'est donc un univers foisonnant que le bassiste à l'imagination débordante fait vivre dans toute sa splendeur et sa diversité.
The Progressive Aspect
September 20, 2015
Louis De Mieulle – stars, plants & bugs
Article by: Roger Trenwith
Some four years after his first solo album, the highly listenable Defence Mechanisms, nimble-fingered bass player Louis De Mieulle returns with his second offering stars, plants & bugs. Louis is an ex-pat Frenchman living in New York, and from the line up on his debut he retains the services of drummer Matt Garstka and keyboard player Casimir Liberski. More melodic than Defence Mechanisms but no less complex, stars, plants & bugs is an instrumental concept album that transmits the natural and cosmic themes of the album title through a music that is both intellectual but at the same time easy on the ear.
This is an individual take on jazz, but those of you who scuttle off whimpering at the very mention of the word really have nothing to fear here. Go on, jump in, the water’s lovely! Opening with the charmingly pastoral Petrified Wood #1 we are soon aware of the fact that Louis and his mates have a knack of transmitting a title’s mental image through highly crafted musicianship.
The trio are joined on some numbers by Turkish flautist Sarpay Özçagatay, aka “SharpEye”. Like Louis and Casimir, Sarpay is a graduate of that production line of musical quality, the Berklee School of Music, located in Boston, USA. Sarpay’s contributions add a natural colour to the canvas; his sinuous and dextrous playing is a delight to behold. Completing the multi-national group is Jerusalem born Tareq Rantisi , a percussionist who has played with a long list of jazz and world music players.
After a tale from the Petrified Wood opens the album, Castor’s song is delivered, all fleet of foot, skipping through the cosmos. The storyline on Louis’ website has it that Insect Party sees the bugs “gather for the Grand Bug Party. Wobbly millipedes, glow worm choirs, restless cockchafer, thieving ants: on the verge of chitinous chaos!” Louis obviously has a thing about arthropods, as this reprises a theme from the first album, and a track by the title of The Ladybug and the Cockchafer. Simultaneously regimented, playful, melodic and dissonant, Insect Party delves into the strange and restless hive mind, but these insects seem to be having fun in their own peculiar way. Keyboard scales ascend in unusual but harmonious fashion, underpinned by a repeating bass line in varied tempos. The small creatures skitter hither and thither to great effect.
While staying within its own modern jazz and fusion furrow, I can envisage that this album will appeal to those of you who are keen on adventurous music regardless of genre. The arrangements drift seamlessly from modernistic electronic and sci-fi fuzzed bass backgrounds, to venture forth across spacious cosmic vastness, to dropping in on rarefied alt-lounge jazz piano respectfully paying homage to ancient wonder. Contrasting with the more traditional jazz structures elsewhere, thoroughly up to date techno rhythms, played by men not machines I hasten to add, permeate Gemini – Part 2: Pollux (Yang).
The longest track here, at just over 13 minutes, is the melancholic Taurus Asleep. Quoting the storyline again: “Passing from one world to another. The Taurus constellation doesn’t glow anymore. Gemini Twins sing their sorrow and revolt against Nature’s inexorable law.” Extemporising on a Bolero-like theme the twins are entwined in a sorrowful lament, represented by Sarpay’s occasional flute, which strives to find joy in the sadness all around. The other focus being on Louis’ hypnotic bass lines and minimalistic percussion, Taurus Asleep is a consummate lesson in less is more. This song is cast adrift in nothingness, quite the meditative spoonful. The rebirth follows, Doff slowly awakening in the blackness on an ascending organ figure that recalls psychedelic era Soft Machine, guided by Louis’ driving bass line.
This album is a departure from predictable and frankly uninspiring prog normalcy but sadly stars, plants & bugswill achieve a mere sliver of the attention granted to musically lesser but more populist works, such is the way of the world. If like me you tire of the endless river of repeated rock tropes, struck by fear in a time machine and fancy something a bit different, but I hasten to add, thoroughly approachable, try this charming little oddity.
01. Opening: Petrified Wood #1 (4:16)
02. Gemini – Part 1: Castor (Yin) (8:54)
03. Insect Party (AKA Soundfreeze #2) (6:48)
04. Nanobot (4:44)
05. Green Hojary (6:47)
06. Gemini – Part 2: Pollux (Yang) (9:25)
07. Taurus Asleep (13:15)
08. Doff (4:11)
09. Malt (6:25)
10. Closing: Petrified Wood #2 (3:15)
Total time – 67:59
Louis De Mieulle (Louison) – Fender Bass
Matt Garstka – Drums, Glockenspiel (7)
Casimir Liberski – Keyboards
Sarpay Özçagatay – Flute
Tareq Rantisi – Percussion
Record Label: Dalang! Records
Catalogue#: Dalang! 2015-001
Year Of Release: 2015
May 06, 2015
Olav M Bjornsen
Louis de Mieulle - 2011 - "Defense Mechanisms"
TRACK LIST: 1. Scapegoat-1 7:32 2. Scapegoat-2 4:32 3. Electric Cell Mutations 7:42 4. Skuld 6:42 5. Soundfrieze 7:42 6. The Ladybug and the Cockchafer 5:55 7. The Taste of Filth 11:32 8. Portrait de Famille 9:09 9. Solitude 5:28 LINEUP: Louis de Mieulle – bass; keyboards Casimir Liberski – keyboards Matt Garstka – drums
Prolusion. Musician and composer Louis de MIEULLE has his background from France, where he got his education and was a part of the local music scene prior to relocating to the US a few years back. In the US he has formed and is a member of several band constellations, and has also instigated a solo career, with two albums to his name so far. "Defense Mechanisms" is the first of these, and was self-released in 2011.
Analysis. The most notable aspect of this production to take initial note of is that this is an instrumental excursion, and the second one is that this is a production primarily aimed towards a jazz-interested audience. While there are tendencies in other directions, the compositions on this album will by and large be much more at home in the jazz department than in any others. As such a certain fondness for instrumental jazz is a prerequisite to be able to enjoy the material presented here. Just about all the compositions here revolve around certain key features. Mieulle's bass provides a solid backbone to the proceedings, perhaps with a tad more room for bass soloing than on other jazz albums made by a trio constellation, and his main style of delivery is a tight and compact one. A more booming and dominant aspect of the bass guitar is presented on occasion, and more careful resonating notes, often supplementing in establishing a more unnerving or a warmer and organic atmosphere, are the main alternate modes of delivery presented. Drummer Garstka gives an emphasis to the tight and controlled aspect of this production, the tight and interwoven cooperation between bass and drums throughout possibly a reason for Mieulle himself to draw certain parallels towards math rock as far as this specific production goes. The use of repeated themes and cyclical arrangements also adding a certain emphasis to this dimension. Pianist Liberski is arguably the star of this production however. The manner in which he shifts between tight, controlled movements and more free-flowing and improvisational escapades adds life to these compositions, a feeling of liberty and freedom reigned in and then let loose. While bass and drums ultimately set the standard for the territories explored, it's the manner in which the piano movements hover on top of that backbone that creates the greater amount of nerve and tension here, in addition to the supplemental keyboards that is. Especially in the first half of this CD additional keyboards and sounds are used to further enrich the moods and atmospheres explored, at times used in a manner that does add a touch of jazz rock to the proceedings. Personally I was most taken by these compositions, and the opening threesome of Scapegoat-1, Scapegoat-2 and Electric Cell Mutations are the tracks I'd recommend jazz rock fans to lend an ear to.
Conclusion. Instrumental jazz with the piano as the central instrument and with a distinct bassist given room to shine is what Louis de Mieulle provides us on his first solo production "Defense Mechanisms". Many of the songs explore moods of a darker and subtly unnerving kind, and do touch upon jazz rock-oriented territories on occasion, too. Ultimately, this is a production with much more jazz than rock to it however, and those with an interest for instrumental jazz trios with drums, bass and piano as the key instruments would appear to be the main audience for this disc.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: May 6, 2015
June 24, 2013
Louis de Mieulle - Stars, Plants & Bugs
Expérimental, Fusion, Groovy, Instrumental, Planant
Ecrit par Corto1809 le 24.06.2013
On ne va pas se le cacher, Louis De Mieulle, petit frenchy parti vivre outre-Atlantique, n'a pas choisi la voie de la facilité pour son premier album solo. Amateurs de chansonnettes, de mélodies limpides ou de riffs bien gras, votre lecture s'arrête ici. Le reste ne vous intéressera pas.
Non, pour apprécier "Defense Mechanisms", il faut avoir l'oreille aventureuse et le goût du bizarre. Aimer les libertés, les grands espaces, les musiques qui évoluent sans cadre, les breaks rythmiques insolites, les boucles entêtantes, les dissonances parfois, bien que rares. La musique reste indescriptible (le disque est entièrement instrumental), fusion entre jazz, free jazz, jazz-rock, avant-garde et musique sérielle pour les lignes principales. Une musique qui vous remplit la tête d'images, si vous n'avez pas fui avant la fin du premier morceau. Une musique qui a un curieux pouvoir apaisant malgré l'enchainement de ses rythmes syncopés, l'ostinato de certains passages, ses fougues bruitistes et une complexité d'écriture avérée.
Pour exemple, 'Electric Cell Mutations' est décrit par l'auteur comme l'évolution des motifs par inversion, augmentation, superposition dans un processus intellectuel et géométrique. Le profane entendra une musique débridée et évolutive qui finit par se structurer autour des arabesques élégantes du piano. Un titre qui ressemble par certains côtés à Hatfield And The North. Il faut dire que Louis de Mieulle a de solides références : diplômé en composition classique du Conservatoire National de Paris, de l'école de jazz American School Of Modern Music et du Berklee College of Music à Boston, un pédigrée qui inspire le respect. Pour l'accompagner, Matt Garstka qui joue de la batterie depuis l'âge de huit ans et Casimir Liberski, pianiste de jazz précoce et doué.
Avec un tel casting, on se doute que la musique est tout sauf simpliste. La virtuosité est de rigueur mais, loin de se perdre dans un onanisme musical de mauvais aloi, le trio emmène l'auditeur aux confins du rêve dans un voyage musical inspiré et dépaysant. Certes, certaines longueurs ne sont pas évitées et quelques passages ardus nécessitent de la persévérance. Mais si les mélodies sont difficilement mémorisables, l'écoute reste agréable grâce à la fluidité des lignes mélodiques et la chaleur de l'interprétation.
En dépit de toutes ses qualités, "Defense Mechanisms" reste un album à réserver aux amateurs de jazz, de jazz rock ou aux assoiffés de virtuosité. Ceux-là, et ceux-là seulement, auront la patience nécessaire pour décoder les arcanes labyrinthiques d'une musique souvent déroutante qui n'oublie cependant pas d'être somptueuse.
Clair & Obscur
June 02, 2013
Louis de Mieulle – Defense Mechanisms
2 JUIN 2013 JAZZ FUSION & ELECTRO-JAZZ
Titre: Defense Mechanisms
Groupe/artiste: Louis de Mieulle
Louis de Mieulle n'est pas totalement inconnu du lectorat de Clair & Obscur puisque le jeune bassiste et compositeur français est l'un des membres de l'émérite Casimir Liberski Trio, une formation jazz éclectique et avant-gardiste, dont l'unique album "The Caveless Wolf" compte parmi nos grands coups de cœur de ces derniers mois. A l'image de son complice pianiste originaire de Belgique, Louis est à la fois un virtuose confirmé et un insatiable créatif, avec un parcours finalement assez proche qui débute par un apprentissage précoce de l'art musical. A l'âge de 7 ans, le petit Louis manipule déjà l'imposant violoncelle, et son cursus le conduira au Conservatoire National de Paris (formation classique) puis à l'American School (jazz), avant de traverser l'Atlantique pour s'en aller poursuivre avec succès ses études musicales au Berklee College of Music de Boston. C'est là-bas qu'il rencontre un autre lauréat, le pianiste Casimir Liberski, point de départ d'une longue et fructueuse collaboration artistique, sans oublier sa contribution à divers projets plus où moins liées au jazz (citons par exemple le collectif Soul'D Out basé à Harlem, avec son style explosif combinant la soul, la funk et le gospel). En France, Louis de Mieulle forme Soundchaser, un groupe de jazz pointu au son spatial et groovy, et participe par ailleurs à divers projets plus "mainstream" dans les milieux rock et hip-hop, parmi lesquels une collaboration avec Lulu Gainsbourg (le fils du grand Serge donc), que Louis accompagnera à la guitare basse sur sa tournée 2011.
La même année, le musicien enregistre "Defense Mechanisms" à Williamsburg (quartier de New-York pour les connaisseurs), son premier album "solo" qui fait appel aux contributions de l'américain Matt Garstka derrière les fûts et de Casimir Liberski au piano et claviers, également portés au crédit de nôtre (décidément !) très doué bassiste multi-instrumentiste. Si l'esthétique instrumentale est ici globalement plus homogène et plus "électrique" que sur "The Caveless Wolf", réalisé l'année suivante avec un line-up quasi-identique, chacune des 9 compositions inclues dans l'album affiche une forte personnalité, avec un caractère unique et une structure propre. Le style général est incroyablement varié, assez indescriptible et riche de nombreuses influences parfaitement digérées, qui feront le bonheur des mélomanes curieux et exigeants. "Defense Mechanisms" sonne comme un mélange détonnant et alambiqué de jazz moderne résolument avant-gardiste et d'effluves jazz-rock-fusion des années 70, avec ces mêmes couleurs délicieusement "vintage", parfois proches de la fameuse école dite "de Canterbury" (Hatfield And The North, National Health, Gilgamesh, etc).
Dans ce maelstrom de rythmes (pour ne pas dire "polyrythmies", avec en point d'orgue le trippant et mystérieux "Soundfrieze", jubilatoire à souhait !), de notes et de climats changeants, il y a aussi un petit quelque-chose emprunté à la vaste et étrange généalogie du "rock in opposition". En témoignent par exemple "Electric Cell Mutations" ou encore "Portrait De Famille", dont les passages dissonants évoquent aussi bien les expériences d'un King Cimson en mode exploratoire que les folles digressions des Sotos, Present ou Deus Ex machina, en plus typiquement "jazz" toutefois. Mais attention aux références : loin de moi en effet l'idée d'assimile l'album à une œuvre de rock prog, même si le caractère "progressif" de cette musique particulièrement sophistiquée et en constante mouvance (mention spéciale au fleuve et labyrinthique "The Taste Of Filth"), est tout à fait indéniable.
Au final, "Defense Mechanisms" est un album très écrit, brillamment composé et à l'exécution on ne peut plus maitrisée et organique, où aucun instrument, pas même la basse volubile de son maître d'œuvre (au son tantôt rond, tantôt incisif) ne vient se tailler la part du lion. A l'occasion de son premier essai transformé, Louis de Mieulle délivre avec ses deux acolytes une musique passionnante et à la précision redoutable, un premier opus entre ombre et lumière dont le caractère expérimental ne laisse pourtant aucune place à un quelconque sentiment de froideur ou d'hermétisme. De la musique "intello" avec de la mélodie, de l'émotion, et beaucoup de feeling en quelque-sorte ! Si si, c'est possible, la preuve…
Philippe Vallin (9/10)
Dutch Progressive Rock Page
May 29, 2012
Louis De Mieulle – Defense Mechanisms
Country of Origin:France/USA
Year of Release:2011
Info:Louis De Mieulle
Tracklist: Scapegoat 1 [Projection] (7:32), Scapegoat 2 [Displacement] (4:32), Electric Cell Mutations (7:42), Skuld (6:42), Soundfrieze (7:42), The Ladybug And The Cockchafer (5:55), The Taste Of Filth (11:32), Portrait De Famille (9:09), Solitude (5:28)
A graduate of the National Conservatory Of Paris (classical writing), and the American School (jazz) and finally of the Berklee School Of Music in Boston, USA, Louis De Mieulle is a highly accomplished electric bass player who has also formed his own “jazz-groove” band Soundchaser in France, and worked with Serge Gainsborough’s son Lulu, as well as playing in more mainstream projects to pay the rent.
Defense Mechanisms was recorded in New York in 2011 and is his first album under his own name. Louis is joined by American drummer Matt Garstka who comes from a more rock/fusion based background, and Belgian jazz keyboard player Casimir Liberski, also a graduate of Berklee Music School, and the first thing to notice is that there are no six string guitars on this album, Louis also contributing his own occasional keyboards. I won’t let that put me off too much; after all it was good enough for most of the career of Soft Machine.
Unlike the Canterbury luminaries, Louis and his cohorts have produced an album that is far more jazz based than anything Ratledge and company came up with, being, I would hazard a guess, far more technically competent musicians. That is not to say this is soulless, far from it. Polyrhythmic and complex the piano and bass fire off each other, and fly apart only to come together seamlessly on Skuld (a Norse goddess of destiny apparently) before a display of dazzling virtuosity by Louis on the bass.
Syncopation, arpeggio, and probably many other more obscure musical terms I wouldn’t even attempt to kid you that I have knowledge of feature throughout, and the result is an engaging and sometimes challenging, but always entertaining listen. The notes to Soundfrieze quote a poem by Lautréamont extolling the virtues of mathematics, and the song is built on precise structures that come to conclusions, before extrapolating into infinite and quantum musical corollaries. Is there such a thing as “math-jazz”? I’ve no idea, but it will have you tapping your toe and scratching your head at one and the same time.
The song notes are as esoteric as the music, and The Ladybug And The Cockchafer is introduced with - “Ladybug (piano) teaches a song to Cockchafer (organ). Scarab (bass) intervenes – he’s jealous. The two lovers then proceed with a duet. Cockchafer is so happy that he goes into a generous improvisation. But Skuld underhandedly decides to end all this nonsense.” – which says it at least as well as I could. This one is also my favourite track on the CD, a lovely and complete piece of music. Who needs guitars?
The longest track on the album, Taste The Filth extemporises on a dissonant piano chord sequence, winding its way through a multi-rhythmic labyrinth of stunning complexity, the bass and piano dancing round each other like crazed fireflies. Solo piano in a lounge-jazz mood soothes the mood, the melodic theme maintained by the bass before morphing into a sinuous funky bass passage, presaging the return of dissonance, the piece showing the chops of the ensemble to full effect.
Solitude ends the album with a solo bass improv that dabbles in Indian scales, and is a fitting and calming end to the album. The fact that what is essentially a bass solo lasting for over six minutes can maintain one’s interest is indication of Louis’ high musical capabilities and ear for a melody.
Although definitely not “prog”, and certainly aimed at the jazz market, Defense Mechanisms is certainly intriguing enough to appeal to those of us into the more synapse-stretching end of the prog spectrum, but it is also direct enough to be accessible.
Conclusion: 7 out of 10
Sea Of Tranquility
April 01, 2012
French musician Louis De Mieulle was born and raised in Paris and at an early age started playing the cello. Before moving to the United States he graduated from National Conservatory of Music and The American School of Modern Music. Once in the US he obtained a degree from the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He is now based out of New York City. Those are impressive credentials and it shows on his first solo album Defense Mechanisms.
The band consists of Mieulle (bass, keyboards), Matt Garstka (drums) and Casimir Liberski (piano, keyboards). Mieulle's brand of jazz takes the listener into other territories such as fusion and the avant-garde, which makes for an absorbing and interesting listen. Mieulle's bass work is a highlight throughout and the music is quite spacious, allowing all the instruments to shine in a clear and concise way.
Songs like "Scapegoat 1" and "Scapegoat 2" show off Mieulle's deep bass grooves and Garstka's free flowing polyrhythmic structures on the drums. Both tunes settle into a cool sound which I found to be strangely hypnotic and trance-like. The second tune is a bit slower offering a more minimalistic approach. The strangely titled "Electric Cell Mutations" is more chaotic with fuzzier bass tones and dreamy cascades of piano lines with elements of fusion creeping into the mix.
One of the more interesting tracks is the trippy "Soundfrieze". Cool effects and spacey textures give this one a more experimental feel while staying within the confines of jazz. "The Taste of Filth" is the album's longest song showcasing outstanding piano, bass and drums. Garstka's complicated polyrhythms are a definite highlight and the song does a fine job blending slight harmonic discord with some outstanding melodies.
Defense Mechanisms is a fine debut which I whole heartedly recommend for jazz listeners searching for something a little different.
1. Scapegoat 1 (7:32)
2. Scapegoat 2 (4:32)
3. Electric Cell Mutations (7:42)
4. Skuld (6:42)
5. Soundfrieze (7:42)
6. The Ladybug and the Cockchafer (5:55)
7. The Taste of Filth (11:32)
8. Portrait de Famille (9:09)
9. Solitude (5:28)
Added: April 1st 2012
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Official Site