Archive for the Nguyên Lê Category

Nguyên Lê Duos – Homescape 2007

Posted in JAZZ, Nguyên Lê on December 10, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Nguyên Lê Duos – Homescape 2007


For a long time, I had in mind to produce an album entirely done at home, and fully develop the potential of the homestudio. Huong Thanh’s three albums (Moon & Wind, Dragonfly & Mangustao) were done that way, but I had never yet fulfilled this idea with a personal project. This is not only a technical challenge (that I like to take up), but also a human and musical choice. For this confidential and family-like experience I invited two of my dearest friends to record in a most relaxed way, to give the best and the deepest of themselves in the intimacy of my living room. In two years time and between numerous planes Paolo Fresu came to record four sessions of total improvisation, sometimes punctuated with some very simple themes. In the 2nd half of 2005 my neighbour (in the Barbès district of Paris) Dhafer Youssef came and we built together the music for our first duo concerts, and then for this album. As there are always exceptions to every rule, two titles include live recordings from our 2nd concert ever, which I reshaped at home (finally the stage and the living room are not that far from each other !)

The creation of this music was intentionally interactive, open and spontaneous, whereas the computer post-production is lonely, meticulous and patient. Then the duo becomes a solo and, after being a guitarist, I become a producer and a sound engineer. The long improvisations (sometimes 45 minutes…) are made of phases when musicians look for ideas, develop them, shape them up, and then look for another idea, etc… Thanks to an important editing work, I tried to find back the essence of those moments and reveal them like themes : the compositional structure of improvisation is unveiled, and then orchestrated and arranged a posteriori.

Encounter of the sardinian breath, the oriental trance, the asian mystery : on the path they meet along with hindu and tropical dances under the neon flashes, an ascending dragon and a treasured spice traded all over the world… This is the sound of imagination opening the doors ! My warmest thanks to Paolo, Dhafer and the motionless travellers of « Homescape ».
Nguyên Lê, Paris, jan. 2006.
Nguyen Le, Paolo Fresu, and Dhafer Youssef have created a modern electronic, Arabic fantasy world with the release of Homescape. From the minute you pop on the album you are immersed in a trance inducing wall of sound that borrows from many influences. Nguyen Le plays acoustic, fretless, synthesizer, e-bow, and Vietnamese guitar as well as adding in computer programming and electronics. Paolo Fresu adds an airy trumpet and flugelhorn as well as electronics. Dhafer Youssef plays the oud and adds vocals and electronics. The middle eastern touches of Youssef and the airy flowing horn of Fresu are blended with absolute beauty to create a stellar backdrop for the electronic guitar play of Nguyen Le. This album has a wonderful flow from start to finish and it immediate sends your mind drifting off to faraway places. This is great background music and very conducive to daydreaming.
By Scott Williams.
“Brian Eno’s dictum that the studio is the new instrument has come to bear on jazz-related music with the seduction of home-studio production. Like any instrument, home tech doesn’t guarantee the success of the end product. Making something worthwhile in this manner now requires avoiding some of the most obvious moves offered up by domestic studio gear. Guitarist Nguyên Lê’s foray into the domestic music production front, recorded in 2004 and 2005, has yielded an enjoyable and personal result. Awash in electronic beats and the requisite layering and effects, it manages to retain a strong sense of logic for each track, not turning the whole affair into a mush of pointless mixmastery or overindulgent cross-fades. Lê’s guitar remains the fulcrum of Homescape, and it is as clear and resonant as it is brilliant. His solo on the opening track `Starnieri,’ with its hyperbolic Vietnamese bends and wonderful palpability, displays his digital powers. The disc’s guests, trumpeter and flugelhornist Paulo Fresu, who flew in from Italy to work at Lê’s home in Paris, and the guitarist’s neighbor, Tunisian oud player and singer Dhafer Youssef, willingly subjected their music to his post-production manipulation.

Fresu mines the frequently tapped Miles Davis shaft, but he also finds some nice modified trumpet sounds on `Mali Iwa’ that suggest Jon Hassel, especially when Lê pairs them with gulping percussion. On `Des Prés,’ Fresu’s rich long-tone underpins a nearly goofily French whistling guitar-synth part, while on Billy Strayhorn’s `Chelsea Bridge,’ they play it relatively straight, elegantly so. Youssef’s duets with Lê are quite direct, his voice cradled by the guitar on `Beyti,’ his oud egged on by Lê on `Zafaran.’ On `Kithâra,’ two lutes state the melody together, breaking apart for a guitar solo. Youssef plays with a groovy dance backdrop on `Byzance’ to good effect.”
Nguyên Lê– Electric, Acoustic, Fretless, Synthesizer, E-bow, Vietnamese Guitars
Paolo Fresu– Trumpet, Fluegelhorn & Electronics
Dhafer Youssef– Oud, Vocals & Electronics
01. Stranieri (Paolo Fresu, Nguyên Lê) 5.59
02. Byzance (Dhafer Youssef, Nguyên Lê) 4.24
03. Muqqam (Dhafer Youssef) 2.43
04. Mali Iwa (Nguyên Lê) 6.26
05. Zafaran (Dhafer Youssef, Nguyên Lê) 6.00
06. Domus de Janas (Paolo Fresu, Nguyên Lê) 2.17
07. Kithâra (Dhafer Youssef) 2.18
08. Chelsea Bridge (Billy Strayhorn) 3.00
09. Safina (Dhafer Youssef, Nguyên Lê) 3.26
10. Des Prés (Paolo Fresu, Nguyên Lê) 2.19
11. Thang Long (Nguyên Lê) 5.32
12. Neon (Paolo Fresu, Nguyên Lê) 3.11
13. Mangustao (Dominique Borker) 7.25
14. Lacrima Christi (Paolo Fresu, Nguyên Lê) 3.13
15. Beyti (Dhafer Youssef, Nguyên Lê) 2.52

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