Review: Chayer Lefebvre – TELLEMENT PAS ZEN (Rara Avis, May 1)

a3067717734_10The sprawling TELLEMENT PAS ZEN is a lengthy offering of more formless electronic music scoured from dusty cable drawers, obsolete warehouse stock piled precariously on sagging shelves, and barely functioning thrift store junk. Though the well-established duo project of Yannick Chayer and Alain Lefebvre recorded their individual contributions remotely during the winter months of the pandemic, the music still has a very present, exploratory feel to it, as if the two musicians weren’t aware of each other as they obliviously experimented on opposite sides of the same room. There’s plenty of palpable seams from what at least sounds like careful post-production stitching and assemblage—the somehow pleasingly tacked-on ending of “Ami.e.So ix10, (P)(r)ickles”; the abrupt, artificial cuts and contortions of the higher frequencies in “n”; the mesmerizing stereo spread of “gHO5T5 in Y.C.” and “Clouds, Dice, Flowers”—but the fluid, layered physicality that forms the backbone of most of the album keeps the engaging and endearing element of manual, real-time improvisation palpable. In terms of duration, scope, eclecticism, weirdness, you name it, TELLEMENT PAS ZEN is a release that strives not to do it all, but at least a solid chunk—and it succeeds. You’ll find yourself often more compelled by the chaotic, psychedelic instrumental accompaniments than the bizarre accounts of paranormal interactions in the pair of “Strange Encounter” pieces, be gradually won over by the ridiculous and yet undeniably pleasing sitar antics throughout “PAAN STAIN RAG,” and get lost in the mesmerizing narrative soundscape that comprises “bIGFOOT sOUR bLUES,” none of which feel amiss on this masterwork of outlandish diversity.