Paris 1985...‘Extra-European’ Traditions meet Jazz and Minimal Music. An unusual array of instruments turn music into a dialogue. For a unique record ... vivid, full of texture, somewhere between Midori Takada, Don Cherry and Jon Hassell.
Beginning of the eighties, 5 musicians rehearse in a contemporary dance class hall, upstairs from the ‘’New Morning", renowned Music venue in Paris. Nyssa Musique is born. Passionate for a long time about traditional music, like those of the Middle East, India and East Asia, but also about African traditions, they throw a bridge between Jazz and ‘Extra-European’ traditions, resulting in what would be called "Spiritual Jazz" today, a little bit in the style of Don Cherry's Organic Music or Pharoah Sanders. With the notable difference, however, that their creations are strongly infused by contemporary classical and repetitive music, notably Steve Reich's work with whom they share a great interest for the traditional cultures of Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia and its gamelans.
In the original group we have Armand Amar, Ballet Music composer and John Boswell. Both specialists of traditional hand percussion which they had been studying for a long time in India and the Middle East, they are also very fond of synthesizers. Three other talented musicians quickly join them: Jean-François Roger, percussionist, marimba and vibraphone specialist, Henri Tournier, multi-flutist and Renaud Garcia-Fons, double bass player, who has a passion for the Middle East and has developed a virtuosic play of the bow, reminding that of Cecil Mc Bee.
Each of them enriches the ensemble with their personality, originality and musical generosity. The rehearsal hall is rapidly invaded by the phenomenal instrumentarium put together by Armand Amar. A great opportunity for the musicians, for the dancers, to have access to an endless choice of instruments, offering infinite possibilities for mixing different colors and timbres. Their sense for being a group and their great capacity for improvising culminates, in 1985, in the composition of their first and only album Comme au Moulin (« As by the windmill"), testimony of years of creating without hidden agenda.
Authentic, free and vibrant, still today, this album has no real equivalent. Even though it recalls the Fourth World current by its combination of traditional instruments with a subtle use of synthesizers, Comme au moulin gives more space to improvisation. It may also recall those of Midori Takada, less the New Age esthetics. An album that should delight as well lovers of "Love Supreme" by John Coltrane, of "Vernal Equinox" by Jon Hassell, as those of Moondog, an artist who, like them, invented a music based on the use of untypical percussions, at the confluence of 'Extra-European' traditions, Jazz and Classical, all together complex and hypnotic.