Amaury Cambuzat‘s début solo outing as Acid Cobra (while not playing guitar in Ulan Bator and one iteration of Faust) finds him hopping figuratively onto horseback for the opening guitar looper workout “Il y a des Cowboys!” The Western vibes blow dustily into the widescreen soundscape he plays, all descending figures circling like buzzards rising on a thermal to gain height for the annual migration path from the desert into the high plains. Drifting with a purpose seems to be the order of the day, and Cambuzat’s guitar has rarely sounded more evocative. The soundtrack motif is not accidental either, and the 13 pieces on the album are all written to accompany Cambuzat’s series of paintings also entitled Petrified Minds, some of which are used for the album artwork.The interjection of environmental sounds from Italy, Mexico or Texas is never far way, but here the emphasis is definitely on the guitar in all its reverberating, buzzing glory. Bells, chatter (of humans and wildlife alike), running water and so on provide hooks upon which to hang references, locations and ideas, but are there to counterpoint rather than upstage his main instrument. When what sounds like a somewhat enthusiastic church service – complete with excited children, ecstatic singing and loping drums – emerges as “The Court of Miracles,” it still fits right in as an almost otherworldly interlude among the guitar instrumentals. Sometimes Amury lets rip on the guitar, but in a very restrained way, reining in the snarling powerchords. Instead of soloing away into the frigid wastes of self-indulgence, he keeps tight control on the effects and playing, stirring mixtures and weighing out measures rather than hurling his obvious talent directly at the listener. There are melodies and more textural sounds aplenty, and frequently moments of elegiac beauty too. Cambuzat’s style is also gently individual, neither so continuously avant-garde* as to unnerve or distract too often by dint of over-cleverness, nor prone to simplistic, obvious or over-familar motions pulled from the canon of six-string solo instrumentals. He is equally happy to let the abrasive discordances of “Les Espitits Pétrifiés” or “101” roll out, but then also has the wherewithal to bring what could develop into a harshly-looping morass sharply into line with some neatly-deployed rhythm or by the simple expedient of pedalling back and enjoying the ride, rather than showing off .
Petrified Minds is a upstanding, subtly-effective work from a unique musician and is well worth repeated visits.
*The final track, “Calendos-Diablos”, which loops Cambuzat talking about Camembert, is however, as superb a piece of Dada fromage-homage as has ever been recorded, by a French person or otherwise.
Cold Waters finds Cambuzat and Jean-Hervé Péron (of Faust, AKA the Art-Errorist) recorded at the latter’s mill in the Ardèche in rural France, and the duo are very much having fun with field recordings and home improvisation here. Opener “Deliverance” is most definitely in the latter camp, with clatter, clang and swirl meeting loops and Amaury’s guitar in a gathering whirlwind which makes no pretences at polishing off its rough edges – while being extremely well mixed at the same time. This comes across particularly also during “Notes de Mon Moulin,” where the dog barking in the mix of what could be pots and pans being played with various sticks among a wash of accreting feedback is so well recorded that the labrador listening down the corridor perked up and started getting ready for a visit.The sundry scrapings, fiddlings, rattlings and general footling may not be to every listener’s taste; anyone expecting a Faust-like side project with much in the way of song content evident will be sorely disappointed, for starters; though anyone familiar with the live improvisations that Faust are equally known for will have some inkling of what Cold Waters has in store. So when after more than ten minutes or so the duo set off on a thundering guitar and bass meander into the joys of wah and distortion pedals, it’s at once familiar and new, fitting thematically for sure within the parameters of where Cambuzat and Péron might go within a Faust jam. The looping of Jean-Hervé’s chuckling with a trumpet and power tools while he recites poetry to the sounds of amplified shaking, rattling and rolling of a sort that Jerry Lee Lewis might not have been familiar with in a musical context is not especially rock either, but it could fit neatly onto any of the last decade’s Faust albums the pair have played on too. The title track is the most rock’n’roll piece on the album, though. It also takes the conventions of the genre and ignore themt quite comprehensively, all the while perking up proceedings – just in case anyone was getting restless at all the scraping; though there’s little actual chance of getting bored by this album at all. “A Mort-Eau” shows that there’s plenty of life left in psychedelic yodelling as Jean-Hervé throws his voice into the endless loops while Amaury sets the tone controls to Out There for the duration. There’s sort of melody going on with “Crushed Croissants,” but it’s one which gets interfered with, even as it settles down into a friendly relationship with a gleefully-simple pounding drum and smashed piece of metal. And could Péron let such a situation go on too long without declaiming loudly, enthusiastically, powerfully? No, of course he couldn’t, no more than Cambuzat could let things ride and forget to soar almost beatifically in response; and it provides a suitably invigorating conclusion to the album too.