Equal parts electronic and acoustic, this fiercely imaginative collaboration between Philippe Foch and Mathias Delplanque strikes a flawless balance from start to finish. In a country that celebrates liberté, égalité et fraternité, Secret should be celebrated as a kind of alternative national anthem.
The two friends have been playing together since 2012. They earned a residency at Césaré – National Center Creation Music Reims in January 2015, where they recorded these seven tracks live, sans overdubs. Foch performs tablas, percussion, stones and electronic effects; Delplanque contributes electronics, real-time sampling and sound processing.
Much of the album has an improvised, almost wandering feel. "Utoeya," one of its highlights, is a good example; it's never clear where the piece is heading, but the thing is so enthralling that you'll find yourself getting lost in it. "Fen" is another terrific piece. The electronics are quietly percussive, which opens up space for Foch to add acoustic texture. The result is full of ear-candy surprises, never more so than at its close, when Delplanque drops a sample of Foch's tabla recorded during that very session.
The final track is "Nyx," another favourite. The tabla performance on this one is more sustained, with an intensity not found elsewhere on the album. It's the album's most conventional performance, and it sparkles. (Parenthèses Records)