This collaboration between France's Astrïd and American Rachel Grimes was a long time coming. After years of correspondence, Grimes was able to schedule an extended trip to Astrïd's home base in Nantes to record and play live shows with the quartet. Through the Sparkle was recorded over a number of sessions during 2012 and 2013.
The full line-up includes Vanina Andréani on violin, kalimba and metallophone; Rachel Grimes on piano; Yvan Ros on drums and percussion; Cyril Secq on guitars, harmonium, Juno, Rhodes and bass; and Guillaume Wickel on clarinet, bass clarinet and Juno.
Accomplished musicians all, they've produced seven highly polished new music pieces. Largely classical in nature, key elements like Ros's percussion and Secq's guitar push the boundaries in a progressive direction. Their influence is subtle, but substantial for those listening closely.
"Hollis," one of the album's best moments, is a good example of Ros's contribution. Featuring a stirring piano performance by Grimes, Ros blurs the line between classical and jazz composition. "M1" follows, featuring a gracefully halting guitar intro delivered by Secq. It is the sparsest of the seven pieces, and may well be your favourite. Meanwhile, there's the rich, sweeping "The Theme," a grand piece of music that is every bit as romantic as its title, and showcases Andréani, Grimes and Wickel in equal parts.
That's not to suggest that Through the Sparkle is anything but a forward-looking, modern record. It's clearly the work of a group of musicians confident in their abilities and intent on challenging their listeners. (Gizeh)