Marsen Jules: Les Fleurs
City Centre Offices

How apropos that Marsen Jules should choose Les Fleurs as the title for his follow-up to 2005's Herbstlaub, considering the degree to which his sculpted creations unfurl with the graceful splendor of flower petals opening in slow-motion. Vibraphone cascades, harp strums, and tremulous string ripples echo and fade into oblivion throughout, the album's eight pieces alluring exercises in meditative stillness. The harp swirls in “La Digitale Pourpre” are especially bewitching, as are the gossamer strings in the Gas-like “Coeur Saignant” and almost violent plucks in “Datura.” A zenith of sorts is reached in the closer “Oeillet En Delta,” 14 reverberant minutes of lulling vibes shimmer. Jules' evocative material conjures the image of late afternoon sunlight reflecting off of water, momentarily blinding one with its glistening sparkle.

As lovely as these meditations are, however, they are also limited in one key respect. While one basks in the lush depths of hypnotic sound, with little or no developmental or narrative arc in most of the eight pieces, the emotional payoff is small. A given piece is like a spinning top casting brilliant, illuminated patterns around a darkened room; as transfixing as such projections are, the top still remains fixed in one place. Jules' pieces likewise blossom to reveal magnificent splashes of colour yet, like flowers, are rooted too.

July 2006