Composer, musician and producer Angèle David-Guillou's third album, A Question of Angles, is without a doubt her most ambitious project to date, its multi-ensemble compositions forming a dynamic cinematic counterpoint to her contemplative lockdown EP Sans Mouvement, recorded on the organ at the Union Chapel.
A Question of Angles is an album of vivid instrumental music. Centred around two main ensembles, a saxophone octet and a string septet, which strut and glide in rhythmic dances, its textures are inspired by the interplay between illusion and reality, particularly the magic realism of Jean Cocteau's films. "I was interested in translating this idea into music, that I could make something big and bold, but where you might also be unsure of what you're hearing," the composer explains. This concept was extended to the album cover, which includes a multi-portrait image that at first glance appears to be a faked composite but was in fact carefully shot for real.
On title track A Question of Angles a Theremin sings with an uncannily human-like keening voice in conversation with the bombast of rumbling bass trombone and staccato strings. The bold opener, Valley of Detachment enters with effervescent saxophones in pulsating phrases, followed by Akrotiri, where a solo cello moves like a courtly dancer, time signatures switching in interlocking patterns. Forgetting Trees also plays with rhythm, but speaks in sentences that ebb and flow, with repeating phrases on bassoon and flute, before Quid Pro Quo, with its layer choir and bass trombones, soars to a rousing finale.
Saxophones and bass trombones are paramount to the album's sound – David Guillou’s use of these instrument draws parallels with Michael Nymans’ most exuberant compositions as well as Moondog's dynamic neo-baroque rhythmic patterns, while the handling of unconventional time signatures echoes soundtrack composer Giovanni Fusco’s unsettling atmospheres for Alain Resnais.
A Question of Angles is David-Guillou’s third album for Village Green, with whom she's also released two much admired EPs of her unique instrumental music. Hers is a music that rejects the density of ambient mood music, with strikingly animated compositions that recall in sound the bright movement of Matisse's La Danse, offering an audacious addition to the landscape of contemporary composition.