Posted on Nov 24th 2010 01:10 am

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Bachar Mar Khalifé: Oil Slick

Oil Slick
InFiné 2010
06 Tracks. 48mins24secs

Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: CD | DLD Boomkat: DLD iTunes: DLD

The son of celebrated Lebanese singer and oud player Marcel Khalifé, Bachar Mar Khalifé was born in Beirut in the early eighties, but spent the majority of his formative years in France. He studied at the Boulogne Conservatoire alongside his brother, Rami, where he developed his singular approach to piano and percussions, and went on to graduate from the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris while Rami headed off to the prestigious Juilliard School in New York. Later on, Bachar toured with his father for a while and also regularly performed with the Orchestre National De France and Pierre Boulez’s contemporary formation Ensemble Intercontemporain, and also contributed to the live collaborative project of Francesco Tristano, Carl Craig and Moritz Von Oswald.

Khalifé’s debut album, published on the decidedly inspired InFiné, is a bubbling piece of work which never quite settles firmly anywhere between its jazz influences, modern classical vision, oriental avant-garde and haunting ambient soundcapes. Singing and playing piano, vibraphone and percussions on here, with Rami also contributing on piano, Aymeric Westrich on drums and synths and Alexander Angelov on bass and backing vocals, Bachar creates a series of highly distinctive and contrasted compositions. The hectic and angular opening piece, Progeria, flirts with experimental jazz and math rock, before taking a decidedly electronic appearance in its last couple of minutes, before, further down, the obsessive and claustrophobic love/hate missive Marée Noire gets under the skin and doesn’t let go, its repetitive piano theme circling over distorted spoken words.

Elsewhere, the wonderfully evocative and haunting Distance provides one of this record’s highlights, its melody developing from delicate brushes of piano and vibraphone into a stunning oblique pop song as Khalifé starts singing, before gaining momentum once again as both bothers battle around superb cascading piano lines. The intimate and stripped down Around The Lamp, which follows, offers a radical change of tone, its piano so close that one can hear the brushing of fingers on the ivory or the occasional creaking of wood. Later on, the textured rhythmic experiment of NTFntf, which combines a deeply atmospheric soundscape in its initial stage, before moving into abstract rhythmic patterns, offers another truly memorable moment here, while the rich Middle-Eastern motifs of Democratia bridge the gap between the oriental and occidental influences fueling Khalifé’s work.

Far from sounding disjointed, pulled apart by its multitude of influences and components, Oil Slick actually sounds extremely tight and coherent, firmly steered by Khalifé from beginning to end, its many sources feeding into incredibly fluid melodies, rich hues and imaginative use of instruments.  Bachar Mar Khalifé’s is an incredibly vibrant piece of contemporary music which follows its own rules and continuously defies classification.


Bachar Mar Khalifé | Bachar Mar Khalifé (MySpace) | InFiné
Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: CD | DLD Boomkat: DLD iTunes: DLD

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