Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Clément Nourry - 17/12/2006@La Quarantaine, Bruxelles

Clément Nourry - g (MySpace)

Clément is one of the first people I met when I moved to Belgium. After a set by the Inaudibles collective and before a Han Bennink-Cor Fuhler duo, in an uncommon access of solitude-fueled bravery, I randomly went up to him and asked him what he had thought of it. Afterwards, we crossed paths often at many concerts, the latest being the Schlippenbach trio, and even went to a few together. Clément has also been known to offer me a hot chocolate. Opportunities to see him play have been scarce, but memorable - the Llop Borja concert a year ago being a case in point.

He started the concert with soft plings that rised slowly, soothingly. The plinging turned harsher, but always a few notes would ring out and decay beautifully. Thus, it was not surprising when he latched on to a one-chord blues arpeggio. Actually, the only entry listed in both the "Influences" and "Sounds Like" categories of Clément's MySpace page is Bob Dylan, so maybe it was to be expected, regardless of the high tongue-in-cheek quotient. The arpeggio was built upon and moved around in various ways until the passing of the slide over the strings from one place to another became the central sound. The avant-blues/gutbucket trope was a recurrent one: later, rhythmic unpitched plucking morphed into stinging Delta blues shot through with high harmonics for that avant edge.

"In A Sentimental Mood" and a bebop standard that I could sing along to but not name served as crucibles for an inventive and natural mix of light, straight-ahead jazz, fuzzy rock and rollicking r'n'b. Another standard, which sometimes sounded like "Someone To Watch Over Me" but probably wasn't, opened onto soft, sensitive chords that swelled and faded. Throughout the concert, phrasing, volume, tone and density were carefully shifted around, so that overall texture spoke its own volumes.

The visceral pleasures of melody, texture and noise that implies volume without effecting it were also embodied in a great song whose harmony evoked Metheny, a hushed "Lonely Woman" and a chiming, dreamy, music box-like piece whose unusually pure notes were left to hang and glimmer. Towards the end of the concert, a steadfast blues shuffle was followed by a laid-back country-ish tune, and the kind of simple-yet-complex-yet-direct communication Clément wished to engage in was made amply clear. Afterwards, La Quarantaine, a place that hosts photo exhibitions and sells insane coffee table photography books, put on Fennesz's Venice, a nonchalantly über-hip move that made a lot of sense.