Christophe Chassol’s Indiamore Queen Elizabeth Hall, London – EFG London Jazz Festival

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Christophe Chassol’s Indiamore is a bold project. Set in the intimate surroundings of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the duo of Chassol (keys) and Lawrence Clais (drums) were accompanied by a startlingly beautiful film from Chassol’s visits to India in 2012. The work marries field recordings from Varanasi and Kolkata with Chassol’s own musical interpretations, and this evening offered a rare opportunity to relish in the full audio-visual experience that he envisioned.

The piece consisted of four parts – each set in different locations – and the creative depth augmented with each new excursion, weaving an exquisite tapestry of sonic discovery, flowing through delicately nuanced timbral territories, much like the river Ganges that meanders through the heart of India itself. Indeed, the Ganges provides the inspiration for the third passage, and its indelible effect upon Chassol is evident in his sensitive touch, and his careful consideration of the melodic figures that flourish alongside the ever-present backdrop of the river lapping against the stone steps. Indiamore is a labour of love, and as such, the more subtle moments prove to be the most successful.

Overly dense live percussion is mismatched with the intricate tabla rhythms in ‘Dosidomifa Pt.1’ and the resultant effect is jarring, rather than symbiotic. That said, for the rest of the performance Clais exhibits great awareness of the material, and the joy shared between the pair in drawing out the elegance of the audio recordings – and the breath-taking cinematography – is never in doubt.

In approaching a country with such a rich and illustrious history to provide inspiration, one can run the risk of creating an unsatisfying pastiche. Christophe Chassol, however, has lovingly produced a work, which perfectly captures his experience of a place he so clearly respects and adores. It may be bold, but only ambition can provide such beauty.

– Alex de Lacey