Spotlight 15
Favourite Labels 2014

Poppy Ackroyd + Lumen
Avec le soleil sortant ...
Brooklyn Rider
Del Sol String Quartet
Nick Gill
Stefan Goldmann
Chihei Hatakeyama
Robert Honstein
Jonas Kopp
David Lackner
Last Ex
Neil Leonard
Little Phrase
The Mark Lomax Trio
LA Percussion Quartet
Near The Parenthesis
Newman and Cox
Pan & Me
Bobby Previte
Marc Sabat
Hein Schoer
Wadada Leo Smith
Templeton + Armstrong
Ken Thomson
Ulterior Motive
Joris Voorn
Andrew Weathers
Ezra Weiss Sextet
Stefan Wesolowski
Keith Worthy

Compilations / Mixes
EPM Selected Vol. 3
Universal Quantifier

EPs / Cassettes / Mini-Albums / Singles
Blu Mar Ten
Michael Jon Fink
Oceanic Triangulation
Northumbria and Famine
Total Science
Simon Whetham

Pan & Me: Ocean Noise
Denovali Records

Christophe Mevel, who not only releases music under the Pan & Me alias but is also a founding member of the dark-jazz outfit The Dale Cooper Quartet & The Dictaphones, follows up his debut collection Paal (recorded in 2010 and released two years later) with Ocean Noise, a wide-ranging seventy-two-minute set designed to be experienced as a single, long-form travelogue. Recorded between 2011 and 2014, the album is largely a Mevel solo affair, though Cyril Pansal (credited with found sounds and guitars) and Gaelle Kerrien (vocals on the closing track) also contribute to the project.

The journey begins with “Yotsuya Station,” which brings the album's late-night character into sharp and immediate focus in its moody noir-jazz style and chamber jazz arrangement of acoustic bass, vibes, piano, and bowed strings. “La Jetée” follows without interruption, with the opener's Badalamenti-esque soundworld remaining in place for this Chris Marker homage. As each piece bleeds into the next, Mevel enhances the evocative impact of the material with ambient textures, field recordings, tremolo guitar shadings, choral whispers, and orchestral sounds. If the crepuscular Ocean Noise conjures a particular kind of mood, it's loneliness and even sometimes sorrow; a powerful sense of mournfulness permeates “A Bigger Grand Canyon,” for example, while “Nickel Empire” and the symphonic strings-heavy “Fahrenheit” capture the project's dramatic scope.

That being said, Ocean Noise's emotional range extends into multiple areas. While there's no shortage of brooding moments, a piece such as “Le rose du bleu” is characterized by hope and uplift, and Mevel becalms the listener with a delicate solo guitar vignette (“Parchemin”) as a lead-in to “The Sea is So Quiet,” a transporting, fifteen-minute ambient-drone meditation that's a travelogue unto itself. By contrast, the heavily treated “Viva” (whose muffled chord progression is strongly reminiscent of an animated one within Einstein On The Beach) thrums with dynamic intensity. Generally speaking, however, the absence of drums and conventional rhythms on Ocean Noise bolsters this captivating collection's contemplative and ponderous dimensions.

November 2014