OUiZZZ – Hello Goodbye (2012)

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There is a real sense, as OUiZZZ’s galvanizing, sometimes deeply experimental Hello Goodbye unfolds, of joint discovery. Though formed a decade ago in Lausanne, Switzerland, this band still plays like a lively conversation amongst new friends – friends with a deep affection for the primal sound favored by the likes of the Bad Plus, but also the twin stylistic jazz giants of Thelonious Monk and Bill Evans.

In keeping, OUiZZZ opens the forthcoming Hello Goodbye (due in September 2012) with a driving propulsion, as pianist Michael Gabriele matches drummer Marc-Oliver Savoy’s every smack on the flinty “Hello.” Here, the exchanges unfold like barked retorts, with bassist Pierre Kuthan providing a dark, thrumming counterpoint. There are moments in which the song sounds something like Coldplay, with its melancholic narrative sweep, then others when “Hello” plays like old-fashioned free-jazz cacophony – making for a dramatic opening statement.

As “Hello” finally releases its white-knuckled hold, OUiZZZ moves on to the loping “I’m Not a Rolling Stone,” downshifting into an effervescent little groove. Switching from acoustic to electric piano and back, Gabriele plays with a hooky prescience, allowing plenty of space for Savoy’s crashing, vaguely psychedelic fills. Then, in another thrilling mashup of styles, Gabriele’s solo at the song’s middle has a distinctly 1970s fusion-rock feel.

“Rolling Stone” ends with a wink, before “Metal Bolero” comes crashing down, like a sky gone black amidst a sudden summer storm. Kuthan follows, step for step, as Gabriele explores a series of portents – each of them more turbulent than the last. As these thoughts ebb and flow, though, I was continually impressed by the group’s ease of movement in and out of dissonance. Even while remaining wildly experimental, OUiZZZ never strays too far from each song’s musical center point.

As with most conversations, there are the occasional interruptions. “Fan de Ballade” begins with a lengthy, ruminative segment featuring Gabriele and a barely audible Kuthan, who slowly leans into a metronomic beat just behind the proceedings – almost like he is willing Gabriele to more concrete statements. By the time Savoy joins in with a few brisk brush strokes, the song has begun to pick up momentum. But then, just as “Fan de Ballade” begins to find a resonate groove, OUiZZZ brings everything to a shocking halt. This track, unlike so much of the rest of Hello Goodbye feels like an incomplete exploration, like an unfinished sentence.

“Pecorino Addiction” then positively leaps out, with Kuthan working in sharp counterpoint as Gabriele and Savoy charge forward into one of the project’s most memorably nimble rhythm signatures. Just that quickly, OUiZZZ is back on track. Seemingly on a new inspirational high, Gabriele doesn’t even stop to solo: Instead, he furiously unleashes a series of cascading piano runs.

“Bike My Ride” shows a similar confidence, as Gabriele works both in color and in light, while Savoy and Kuthan set up a darkly mysterious atmosphere. Then, in keeping with the title, the entire group begins hurtling along at a frenetic pace. Savoy is the pumping legs, moving with a blinding speed; Kuthan rises and falls in quick inhalations, and Gabriele races like platelets coursing through the rider’s veins, until once again OUiZZZ comes to a screeching halt. You’ll be left breathless, too. Gabriele begins “Beautiful Carpet” with a folky stoicism, perhaps as far away as he could get from the heart-splashing experiences associated with “Bike My Ride.” You might have been expecting, after so many intriguing twists and turns, that this song too would eventually make some sort of abrupt departure. Instead, OUiZZZ head fakes once more, as Gabriele concludes this track just as he began – alone at the acoustic piano.

Finally, there’s the aptly named “Goodbye.” A squelchy, sometimes musically confrontational piece that combines noise-rock with this baroquely pleasing piano signature, it may just be OUiZZZ’s most interesting experiment yet. By combining what seem to be incompatible elements of music, the group makes it boldest stride yet away from the cob-webbed conventions of jazz. In so doing, the finale shows that OUiZZZ – for all of its many success on the offbeat, ever-intriguing Hello Goodbye – still has a lot more to say.

Pre-order OUiZZZ’s ‘Hello Goodbye’ at their Bandcamp page: http://ouizzz.bandcamp.com/album/hello-goodbye. Preview the album here!: https://soundcloud.com/ouizzz/sets/hello-goodbye-september-2012.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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