Friday, October 6, 2017

Listen: Armel Dupas - "A Night Walk"

photo by Fiona Grimmeison
When a chance meeting brought me in contact with French pianist/composer Armel Dupas, my reward was the introduction to his wonderful solo debut Upriver. While he's more or less been touring behind that record since its 2015 release, he most recently announced its follow up A Night Walk. The record finds him assembling his touring band mates, multi-instrumentalists Mathieu Penot and Kenny Ruby, into a trio for the inaugural release of Dupas' new label imprint Upriver Records.

Despite his training as a jazz pianist, the most curious thing about Dupas' music both on Upriver and on the "A Night Walk", the eponymous first single from the upcoming record, is the fluidity of genre. Dupas' touch remains as subtle as ever and he's found collaborators that manage to engage with that same gentle touch when it would be easy to blow it up for a bigger sound. Penot who plays drums on the record and Ruby who serves on bass, help Dupas' to illustrate his veritable nocturne. Whether through the percussion or the swirl of synths (which Penot and Ruby are both skilled players of), there's a pervasive sense of introspective quiet. It's a walk to clear one's head. On "A Night Walk" Dupas' continues to blur the lines between organic and electronic sounds with an ease that is commendable. The piece, luckily, does not stay at the same dynamic. Though never losing either the effortless ease or sense of calm, the trio to push towards a sensible climax that sees the band becoming more involved with each other. Dupas also makes impeccable use of a more or less sudden switch up as everything comes to a seemingly finite conclusion a little more than halfway through. A steady synth hum is the only indicator that the piece isn't complete and when the band return - they're operating at peak energy and in a blissful key change. It's a piece that could easily go on for ages like the New Age drone in a spa but that use of the key change in all of it's glorious, triumphant nature signals a complete and deeply felt ending. It's a hell of an introduction to the Dupas' trio and curiously enough the track that Dupas elected to end the album with so everything leading up to this point is very much up in the air. Lucky for us, there's not too long of a wait before the rest of A Night Walk is available.   

A Night Walk, the first record from Armel Dupas' Upriver Records featuring Mathieu Penot and Kenny Ruby is out October 20th.

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