Christophe Fellay with Notes Inegales

Club Inégales, London

A warm and switched-on audience gathered for this edition of Peter Wiegold's category-defying, gently idealistic club-night, featuring Swiss drummer Fellay in a solo set and later in collaboration with the eclectic Notes Inégales band. But first the house ensemble, directed from the keyboard by Wiegold and revelling in the line-up of cello, tuba, piano, guitar and Korean flute, gave us a group improvisation that began sharp-edged and stormy and somehow ended in the serene soundworld of Mahler's 'Das Lied von Der Erde'. Fellay's solo improvisation was a lesson in feel and close listening as he shared with us the secret life of the drums. Using a tiny hand-held microphone to track his own playing, he was able to pick up the hidden frequencies and subtle resonances of his kit and develop these uncovered sounds into something like a new drum vocabulary – the revelation being that even one small cymbal contains a world of sound. With this extended language at his fingertips, Fellay produced a beautifully shaped and eloquent piece that was richly atmospheric, bringing to mind rain and skudding clouds – weather and nature. It wasn't a literal depiction, the music was too free-flowing and in-the-moment – even so, an artist's surroundings can't help but seep into their consciousness, and Fellay does come from the Alps.

The final part of the evening saw Notes Inégales back on stage with Fellay for another two adventurous pieces that blurred the boundaries between written and improvised music. The first was a set of four movements devised by Wiegold based on Korean rhythm-patterns; the second a wide-ranging suite by Fellay that mixed mellifluous textures with an edgy energy. The musicians had spent the afternoon shaping these pieces, which will evolve further: after this gig everyone was heading to Switzerland where the mountains will probably have their own effect.

– Philip Hogg

The Write Stuff

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