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Chat Noir: Nine Thoughts For One Word album review

Ambient crossover with plenty of passion from Chat Noir

It’s good when a band expands their sound into different areas, though it’s not without danger: change too much and you risk alienating your existing audience. Happily this is an unlikely fate for Chat Noir, who, since their 2006 debut, have drifted far from their jazz trio origins with each successive release. For their sixth album, a change in personnel proves to be a significant catalyst. Long-time drummer Guiliano Ferrari has been replaced by ambient master J Peter Schwalm. The triggered beats and subtle electronica-inspired atmospheres Schwalm brings dovetail neatly with Michele Cavallari’s already expansive keyboards and bassist Luca Fogagnolo’s penchant for dispensing subterranean shockwaves.

The pensive film soundtrack quality to Eternally Tranquil Light pervades many of the short but detailed compositions, culminating in climactic rushes, bursts of sax and bell-like peels of piano tumbling into the light. An injection of quirkier elements, including guest vocals and poppy dance grooves, prevents there being any sense autopilot chillaxing. Closer Crystallized Flow flexes stately control over a pretty but melancholic melody while retaining Chat Noir’s obviously passionate engagement.