Review: Where Is Mr. R ?! – 18 Luglio (2035, Feb 3)

“…témoignant non d’un choix mais d’une limite physique.”

This phrase (which loosely translates to “…testifying not to a choice but to a physical limitation”) ends the description of 18 Luglio, the newest release from Paris trio Where Is Mr. R ?!, setting the stage for a somewhat brief but no less formidable free-music invocation. Unlike their self-titled debut, also produced by 2035 Records, the aforementioned “limite physique” manifests as a 15-minute duration restriction on two homogeneous improvisations, which each follow the three musicians—Augustin Bette (drum set), Basile Naudet (alto sax), and Luca Ventimiglia (vibraphone)—as they stagger and stumble through incessantly repetitive phrase-loops specifically designed to exhaust. According to the band, disintegration through performance fatigue was always the goal, and 18 Luglio is la trace sonore de cette impossibilité (the soundtrack of this impossibility); their initial “objective” may well be impossible, but the music produced along the way is anything but. It’s an absolute pleasure to witness these constantly cascading currents of loosely structured free-jazz noodling, the obstinately stagnant riff-cells sometimes syncing up in whimsical unison but mostly bouncing off each other in the auditory equivalent of a lottery-ball-hopper frenzy.

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