Voyage imaginaire dans les ruines de Detroit

Release date: March 2, 2018
ONJ Records JF006 / L’Autre Distribution

SYLVAIN DANIEL electric bass, French horn
LAURENT BARDAINNE tenor saxophone
MANUEL PESKINE piano, Fender Rhodes


Sylvain Daniel is a bassist and hybrid musician whose name has been associated as often with the jazz scene — the ONJ of Olivier Benoit, and such figures as Vincent Courtois or Thomas de Pourquery — as with milieus like electro (Bot’Ox), pop (Camelia Jordana), hip-hop (The Wolphonics, Gaël Faye) or world music (The Afrorockerz, Yom). And now he’s presented us with his first album leading his own group, Palimpseste – Voyage imaginaire dans les ruines de Detroit.

The inspiration behind the material in this project lies in the photographs of Romain Meffre and Yves Marchand featured in the book Ruins of Detroit, images that have already formed the basis of a multimedia scenography created in 2016.  Sylvain Daniel has never been to Detroit. But ever since he can remember, he’s been listening to the music of Motor City, from the initial soul of Motown to the hip-hop of Jay Dee, not forgetting the minimalist electro of Juan Atkins. It was when he discovered the book of the above two young French photographers that he made the connexion between the origins of all these artists; and he realized the influence that Detroit had wielded over his own musical culture without his ever having set foot there… And so Palimpseste was born, an invitation to an immersion in a Detroit of his own imagining, a city whose art still transpires in the multiple strata of its abandoned tenements, like a parchment that needs scraping to disclose its story.

He wanted his album to take on a “production” sense that would be more appropriate to the emblematic music-forms of the city. And so surrounding him here we have artists currently active on the independent rock and electro scenes: sound-engineer and producer Frédéric Soulard (Maestro, Joakim, Jeanne Added), saxophonist Laurent Bardainne (Poni Hoax, Limousine, Samantha et Sabrina), plus two “all-road” musicians, keyboards-player Manuel Peskine and drummer Mathieu Penot. Thanks to a resolutely electric sound, plus the use of instruments that have been tinkered with — not to mention some radical ways of treating the sound-take directly at the source — the result is a furiously “urban” disc with very marked colouring. When composing the material, the bassist also had in mind these words of Derrick May (he was describing the Detroit brand of Techno): “Our music is like ‘George Clinton meets Kraftwerk’, but in the same elevator… It’s in the image of Detroit: a total error.”

This album’s entire production was directly inspired by Detroit’s musical legacy, with superimposed timbres and undulating grooves reminiscent of J Dilla (Hôtel Fantastic, Game On), dark, repetitive sound tints that recall the robotized universe of Motor City and the emergence of Techno (FisherBody Party, PsychoFact), or again, live recordings of spiritual ballads in the spirit of Motown (Les Colchiques, School Song)… There are veiled hints in the direction of Slum Village or Cybotron, with each title plunging us into a sort of dream state in which the city tells its story, and delivers its energy while leaving room for our imagination, guided by the music in Sylvain Daniel’s compositions.

Recorded by Frédéric Soulard, Midilive Studios, February 2017
Mixed by Sylvain Daniel & Romain Clisson, Durango Studio, December 2017
Masterred by Rémi Salvador, Climax Mastering, December 2017