CD, Oceanik Creations, 2006
The collaboration between the duo of Cédric Stoquer and Sébastien Renou of Altaï and Jérôme Paressant of Abraxas Projekt started early in 2004 when they remixed each others songs. Since then, the partnership has developed and became a full-scale collaboration under the title “Ouroboros”. Both groups share a love of electronics and improvised jazz, Altaï focussing on the re-appropriation and recursive manipulation of their own music and Abraxas Projekt exploring the fusion of electronic ambient, dub and improvised music.
Featuring a total of 11 tracks – 2 remixes, 5 collaborations and 2 new tracks from each group – “Ouroboros” is an exploration of the crossroads between experimental electronic and freeform jazz music to produce a form of electro-jazz. Ranging from moody rhythmic electronics through to manic abstract jazz, “Ouroboros” is a heated battle between the 2 forms.
The electronic side of this record ranges from futuristic experimentation to catchy rhythmic movement. The freeform side, most in evidence wherever Abraxas Projekt are involved, conjures images of cool smoke filled clubs with jazz musicians improvising their set, at times manic with passion for their music. Sometimes subtly hinting at a tribal influence in places, the music is often busy and experimental, the traditional and digital instruments jostling for position. Altaï’s album opener “Losthing (Abraxas remix)” is a good example of this while Abraxas Projekt’s “Menhirs (Altaï remix)” emphasises the recycling of sounds and abstract electronic qualities that Altaï bring to the mix. In some respects, the combination can be seen as a clash of styles but in others a meeting of minds and this is reflected in the music; “Ghost” falling into the first category and “Menhirs (Altaï Remix)” into the second. In contrast, where the electronic influence is breaks orientated and rhythmic, the two styles compliment each other nicely; with the brooding ambience of the title track or “Carefully”, both collaborations, for example. The organised confusion of electronics and traditional instrumentation is still there, the two just seem to work better on certain tracks. Delving further into “Ouroboros” reveals the respective contributions of the two groups; Abraxas Projekt bringing smooth fluid, occasionally manic, jazz workouts and Altaï offering warm flowing electronic sound manipulation. Put the two elements together however and you end up with an entirely more frantic abstract result.
The strongest tracks on “Ouroboros” are generally the collaborative tracks where the electronics set the scene and jazz instrumentation compliments it with mood and just the right amount of input. Everything seems wonderfully balanced. Occasionally, however, the two styles don’t seem to be quite as in sync as they could be and each going in different directions, not gelling quite as they should.
It would also be remiss of me not to mention the glossy tri-fold packaging with wonderful pictures of landscapes at sunset.
— Paul Lloyd