Guillaume & The Coutu Dumonts: Breaking the Fourth Wall
Circus Company

Guillaume & the Coutu Dumonts (Montreal-born Berliner Guillaume Coutu Dumont and long-time collaborators Marc-André Charbonneau, Sébastien-Arcand Tourigny, and Nicolas Boucher) serve up a heady cocktail of funk, house, techno, swing and Afro-beat on the seventy-eight-minute opus Breaking the Fourth Wall. One of the major things distinguishing the album is its live band sound and acoustic dimension (in addition to synthesizers and drum machines, the album's eleven tracks are powered by an ever-percolating brew of electric piano, electric bass, drums, congas, saxophone, trumpet, and Hammond organ). That the material is grounded so heavily in percussive grooves doesn't surprise, as early on Guillaume played percussion in a funk band, and then studied Latin and classical percussion in college before exploring electroacoustic composition at university.

The album's character is ably set by the opener “Mindtrap,” a wildfire of jazzy playing and funky Latin-house rhythms that uses a stretched piano note as a pedal point, and overlays it with muted trumpet, wiry bass lines, congas, and live drums and cymbals. Similar in boisterous spirit is the roiling Latin-jazz jam “32 Tonnes de Pigeons,” which catches fire with chunky organ chords, a haunting trumpet theme, and feathery tenor sax solo. With saxophones spurring on its broiling groove with purring two-note riffs, “Can't Have Everything” (featuring dOP) sounds like the kind of soul-house jam the backing bands of Fela and James Brown might have conjured for their frontmen. Elsewhere, Dave Aju adds drawling vocals to “On the Lips” but the cut's more memorable for the ominous mood it cultivates throughout its nine-minute run. The chilly “Intermède (Breaking the Fourth Wall)” briefly pushes the album into a murkier zone of saxophones and live cymbals, while the funereal ambient setting “Unwelcome” likewise provides a break from the beat-driven intensity. “Discothèque” surprises by featuring a spectral shuffle as its groove rather than the expected 4/4; “Helicoptère,” on the other hand, is aptly titled, given the gyroscopic arpeggios that squiggle alongside the cut's sizzling tech-house pulse. The album's rounded out by the driving house of “Walking the Pattern” and slinky Afro-beat of “Radio Novela” (featuring Dynamike). By album's end, it's clear that the message of the album title may be obvious but also apropos. By bolstering the live feel of the album's material, Guillaume repeatedly collapses the separation between listener and performer so that that ‘fourth wall' disappears.

June 2010