Wednesday 8 February 2023

'Visions' by Cinephonic

'Visions' is the new album release from the Pierre Chrétien-helmed Cinephonic collective released through Ontario's Marlow Records.

Following up on Cinephonic's debut release 'Les Paradis Artificiels' from 2020, Chrétien has clearly stumbled onto a winning and creatively satisfying formula that sees the multi-instrumentalist and producer employ his years embedded within the broad pallette of music-making and transform them into a series of lush, cinematic soul-infused soundscapes.

Chrétien has thrived amidst a variety of musical projects over the years - the sensational spiritual jazz outfit, the Atlantis Jazz Ensemble, captivated listeners with their 'Oceanic Suite' full-length from 2016 while Chrétien has also achieved a huge amount of success as band leader for the celebrated Souljazz Orchestra who have amassed an extensive catalogue since 2005 with the vast majority of their releases finding a home on the UK's revered Strut Records.

Across the multitude of his projects, Chrétien's indelible touch has seen him assume the role of producer, composer as well as tackling a variety of instrumentation throughout his albums including electric piano, clavinet, organ, guitar, mellotron, piano, bass, percussion and vibraphone.  Cinephonic's 'Les Paradis Artificiels' debut, for example, saw Chrétien collaborate with Robert Biesewig on drums and Souljazz Orchestra member Marielle Rivard on percussion while assuming all other duties himself.  'Visions' however proves to be a far more inclusive affair with a considerably more far-reaching scope with up to fourteen close friends and collaborators employed which excitingly comprise members of the Atlantis Jazz Ensemble, The Souljazz Orchestra and Marlow Records labelmates The Mar-Kays, who backed singer Slim Moore for their fantasic gritty soul offering 'Introducing Slim Moore & The Mar-Kays' from back in 2011.

While Chrétien has been very open about the inspiration for this project stemming from his affections for 1970s cinematic compositions - an affection shared by several of today's luminaries like Shawn Lee, Norman Smuggler and Glenn Fallows - Cinephonic manages to present a brilliant extension and inspired facet to Chrétien's music to date.  

Despite the noted differences in project contributors, 'Visions' very much builds upon the groundwork as established by the album's predecessor with ten tracks offering a rich and versatile collection of recordings portraying an ever-changing series of scenes and emotions.  

The vibrant 'Le Combat' kicks the project off in excellent fashion serving as a dynamic and vibrant opener before leading into the equally fascinating 'Pyramides'.  'L'Exil', like many of the album's tracks, is bolstered by the lush orchestration provided throughout and actually provides the first of the album's more introspective pieces.  'Visions' owes so much to the charm and personality that just beams through the music - wonderfully presented with crisp performances all enriched by its gloriously dusty analog aesthetic.

So much of Pierre Chrétien's music - as evidenced through a variety of collectives and ensembles - can be attributed to the theme of exploration and under the Cinephonic guise so many new adventures have subsequently become available for exploration.  Whether 'Vision's leads on to a third outing or if the Cinephonic journey does in fact end here, it has certainly been an incredible adventure!