Chamaeleo Vulgaris - Reset
Since 1993, bassist Frederick Galaiy and guitarist Jean-Sebastien Mariage have explored the uses and sounds of their electric instruments and amplifiers in as immediate and natural an environment as possible. As Chamaeleo Vulgaris, the duo use minimalism and tone, feedback and resonance, to tell their tale. Recorded in Paris in 2001, live and without effects pedals and with the musicians sitting facing each other along with their amplifiers, "Reset" celebrates the duo's intimate approach to their instruments, an improvisational interplay in which naturally generated sounds act as a third member. The audience normally would sit around the musicians, creating not only intimacy but other acoustic opportunities.
"Pūjā" opens the eleven song set with humble fanfare. Meditative, sparse and metallic, it announces the environment the duo are creating, without completely showing all their cards.
After such a seemingly passive opening, "Skhêma" announces its single note boldly, and various fitful, agitated gestures, that give the impression of cymbals but are again organic to the instruments and amps.
"Pshat," the longest track at just over thirteen minutes, paces itself through silence with deliberate tones that sound like argumentative birds or dueling wine corks.
"Boo Murgel" follows. It is minimal but chaotic and assaultive, an explosion of feedback-and-string-conjured demons.
As an example of the blending of the various ideas explored, "Yoni" is an exercise in sounds, both loud and soft, sustained and muted. "Tabula Rasa" and "Drash" end the set with more silence than sound, more echo than statement, creating a somber but bright hymn-like feel.
"Reset" is not easy listening, but it ought to sound familiar. By building off of natural acoustics and sounds generated by the nearness of their instruments and amps to each other, Chamaeleo Vulgaris merely work with the natural sounds of the spaces they inhabit, however briefly. What music are you missing in your daily routine?
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