The Little Miracle of Malguénac

Concerts 25.08.2023

The Malguénac festival, "Arts des villes, Arts des champs", is a small miracle that has been happening every year for the past 26 years, in a Morbihan commune of 1,800 inhabitants, just outside the small town of Pontivy. A festive, joyful public of all ages, from the youngest to the oldest, throngs to explore "jazz and its environs" in this country setting. This motley fauna discovers artists of international stature as well as local groups, traditional jazz as well as more modern, hybrid, sometimes experimental forms, or related music such as rock, blues, electro... Everyone finds their own style, as well as their own way of listening: standing, dancing or sitting. Hémisphère son, present on all three evenings of the festival, has chosen to review four bands. This article looks back at the first evening with Horla and Ishkero.

Horla opens the Malguénac festival on Thursday August 17 at 7.30pm, a choice that might seem surprising at first, given the intimacy of the band, but the group benefits from the concentrated attention of an audience perfectly receptive to their proposition. Horla is a surprising encounter between two artists with singular backgrounds. After studying classical cello in Lille, Pauline Willerval immersed herself in learning the gadulka, the traditional Bulgarian violin, which she learned on the ground in the Balkans. She also studied oriental music and traditional music from Auvergne and Brittany. As for Jack Titley, he's been bottle-fed bluegrass, which he masters like a natural language and infuses into all his music, notably on five-string banjo and guitar.

After their first project in 2019, Look down the road, based on bluesman Skip James, Horla return to Malguénac to defend their intense reading of Brigitte Fontaine, this fascinating artist with a thousand facets and a thousand aesthetics, as much punk as hippie, as irreverent as she is in love with life and art. The chosen repertoire is based mainly on the Jacques Higelin and Areski Belcacem period, although a large part of the artist's career is covered. The arrangements are all highly sensitive and elaborate, arousing intense emotion by often resting on the most essential fragility of a single string vibrating on contact with a vocal cord, the very substance of music, the bare flesh of the language of sound. The voices of Pauline Willerval and Jacques Tilsey, the banjo, the guitar, the cello or the gadulka, everything is vibration, a vibration that touches the deepest part of us and does us good, on the singer's lyrics, which are often dark, or at least sarcastic, but so right to speak of the world, this world where it's cold.

It's this mastery of fragility as well as the highly successful construction of the program, the choice of songs (expected hits, "L'Auberge", "Conne", "Cet enfant que je t'avais fait", "Comme à la radio", as well as lesser-known pieces, "Le Grand-Père", "Matriarcat", etc.), the thoughtful little interludes, sometimes little bits of song evoked ("C'est normal", quotes from interviews and the humor of the two musicians that adds even more to the program.), the well-thought-out interludes, sometimes little bits of song evoked ("C'est normal"), the quotes from interviews and the humor of the two musicians, all of which add to Brigitte Fontaine's irreverence and quirkiness and, in the end, make the timing of Horla's concert ideal.

The music ofIshkero exalts a fusion perfume carried by the naturalness and simplicity of a generation of musicians who long ago forgot all the opaque and sclerotic frontiers between musical genres, and who lay claim to progressive jazz. It's infused with electronics and multiple effects, and exudes, it has to be said, joie de vivre, the joy of live performance and unbridled improvisation over groovy rhythms. She never shies away from the seductions of a catchy, light lyricism, as if everything were flowing from the source, in the breath of an optimistic wind.

However, and it's mainly in the live setting that this becomes apparent, Ishkero doesn't disavow the long orgiastic climaxes and the jubilation of unbridled improvisations, nor the long ambient and atmospheric tracks. It has to be said that these musicians, however young they may be (under thirty), have been playing together for a very long time: the band was born in 2014 (and yes!), and its beginnings even go back to 2011 (a music workshop in Barcelonnette). On a personal level, this type of fresh, cheerful melody isn't usually my cup of tea. But the body they take on live, the musicians' pleasure in playing together, their complicity and cohesion, and the ecstatic evolution of the themes, sweep me off my feet from one end of the concert to the other.

The quintet features Adrien Duterte on flute and percussion, Victor Gasq on electric guitar, Arnaud Forestier on Fender Rhodes (with a host of effects), Antoine Vidal (replaced on this evening by Romain La Baye) on electric bass and Tao Ehrlich on drums. This drummer impresses with his groove, energy, efficiency and precision, combined with Romain La Baye's often funky bass (with just one repeat, it's a great performance!). This euphoric concert is based on Ishkero's debut album, released in February 2023, Shama, an Indian word used to describe something "of great beauty". A good point!

Guillaume Kosmicki

You can listen to Guillaume Kosmicki's interviews on RBG (Radio Bro Gwened):
- Horla, Loving reading of Brigitte Fontaine
- Ishkero, La joie de vivre, the joy of live performance

Photos © Ysa Gudule


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