Remember that gut-busting viral video by pianist Henry Hey in which he over-layed McCain and Palin speeches, emulating their cadences during the 2008 debates? The opening track of Florent Ghys’s "Télévision" brings this ambitious ruse back in a flood, minus the acerbic bent.
Like the majority of the track list, Blazer et/ou cravate inhabits a delighted, puckish air, here with his double-bass pizzicato tracking weather reporters’ asymmetrical meters and natural vocal contours. The ease of Ghys’s duet-ing and the eventual introduction of his own multi-tracked falsetto, gently punctuating shifts in harmony, camouflage an impressive feat of virtuosity unmistakable on a third or fourth listen.
Fear not, children raised by Zeniths and Vizios,"Télévision" is not an indictment of the idiot box, but a one-person paean to the unintentional poetry it emits and, in this case, inspires. Take the track 2-pop, in which the blip one hears in a 5-4-3-2 countdown at the front of a film reel provides the perky metronome for a gratifying jam of layered, cascading multi-tempo vocal counting. Or how about the carbonated fizz of This is the album of the future, in which a 1980’s newscast astounds the viewer with the sci-fi-level technology of the Compact Disc? In it, Ghys weaves and multiplies double-bass 16th-note pairs over a similarly binary drum kit as his voice melts elegantly between pitches.
Fans of The Books will feel a hot-toddy-and-a-fireplace-like cozy familiarity within these numbers, given the multi-lingual and found-sound samples comprising the album’s “libretto.” It is Ghys’s unrestrained whimsy and exacting assembling of materials, though, that keep headphones firmly cupped to the listener’s ears. Whether it is bewitching col legno droplets framing Invitation to love (you’re welcome, Twin Peaks-enthusiasts) or the capricious videos the composer/performer shot to accompany these tunes, there’s no doubt "Télévision" is even more entertaining than John McCain crooning, “pretty nasty things about Western Pennsylvania.”
- Doyle Armbrust