Chat Noir: Elec3Cities

Captivating collection of atmospheric, jazz-tinged instrumentals.

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The normal practice for a jazz group recording an album: enter the studio, knock out a few takes, pick the best – job done. For their fifth release, Italian trio Chat Noir tried a different approach, emailing each other music files, working on them separately, adding layers and ideas until a finished album emerged. The result is an agreeably low-lit, smoky swirl of jazzy insouciance, splintery electronica and downtempo lounge chill.

Here, Mellotron flutes tremble over brooding pulses; frosted strings are stained with bowed bass, eerie twinkling musical box rhymes float by. Day-Glo, pysch-enhanced electric piano collides with accelerating dance beats and glitches, all adding urgency and drama.

Moving along the EST Cinematic Orchestra/Jaga Jazzist continuum of cool, this is not just about giving a few riffs a liberal sprinkling of off-the-shelf atmospherics. Good quality composition underpins Michele Cavallari’s assertive keyboards and Guiliano Ferrari’s studied drumming.

Bassist Luca Fogagnolo describes the band as ‘a ship adrift’. They may have started out as a jazz trio; but now, eight years on, they’ve washed up on an altogether different shore.

Sid Smith

Sid's feature articles and reviews have appeared in numerous publications including Prog, Classic Rock, Record Collector, Q, Mojo and Uncut. A full-time freelance writer with hundreds of sleevenotes and essays for both indie and major record labels to his credit, his book, In The Court Of King Crimson, an acclaimed biography of King Crimson, was substantially revised and expanded in 2019 to coincide with the band’s 50th Anniversary. Alongside appearances on radio and TV, he has lectured on jazz and progressive music in the UK and Europe.  

A resident of Whitley Bay in north-east England, he spends far too much time posting photographs of LPs he's listening to on Twitter and Facebook.