Ghost Rhythms - Madeleine

Ghost Rhythms – Madeleine

Young French jazz-fusion ensemble Ghost Rhythms arrive at TPA Towers hitherto unknown to me with their third album, a two-hour long instrumental tribute to the movie Vertigo. Intrigued by the oft-quoted synchronicity between Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon and the movie The Wizard Oz, the band’s composers-in-residence Camille Petit and Xavier Gélard set out to make a synchronous alternate soundtrack to the legendary Hitchcock film. The results are as gloriously expansive and darkly cinematic as you would expect given the subject matter.

Mysterious and beguiling, this is a highly enjoyable and melodic album of intricate chamber jazz arrangements for the small and medium sized ensemble. While hinting at avant influences, there is nothing at all difficult about Madeleine, and its high musicality should appeal to a wider audience than the description “chamber jazz” may entice. As an example, an atypically heavy guitar riff is the fulcrum on which the spooky I Did Not rests, before walking through a haunted dimly lit street to find a glorious and somehow very French sax solo waiting halfway in, returning to the guitar riff for the final section. These eight minutes of sophisticated musical enjoyment are followed by the contrasting Tree Ashes, a baroque treat of a tune featuring some marvellous piano work and another helping of great sax blowing, as you can hear below:

The longest track on CD1 is Carlotta Valdes, a European dance through a joyous folk-jazz symphony, all high kicking, sublime picking and locked-in ensemble playing that creates a merry groove of infectious energy. Very nice indeed.

The album continues in much the same fashion, often evoking scenes from the film, using dramatic devices such as the pregnant silence in Free Fall that presages a musical head rush of fear as Madeleine plunges to her apparent death. This is followed by the suitably edgy Apparition #1, illustrating Scott’s obsessive dark days and nights of the soul following his lover’s demise. The music slowly descends a never-ending staircase, plucked guitar notes spookily reverberating around, with the elegiac call of the cello ending the tune. The theme of Apparition #1 is cleverly reimagined as a Gallic folk-jazz-funk workout on L’Alphée, determined by the bass nailing it down on the one.

After the most gentle of hauntings by Apparition #3, courtesy of some more beguiling piano work from Camille, we arrive at the halfway point – it must be time to replenish the popcorn…

Aleph begins with a repeated single piano note and eventually builds to a riff on the more upbeat themes established in the first half, in a chamber-rock style. There is some really nice flute, guitar and percussion work on this track, which dances along its merry way in a carefree manner, all the while suppressing a tension just below the surface. Another classy arrangement.

Haunting sustained guitar notes quietly howl through the cyclical theme of Relief, a theme that develops through the next few tracks, picking up nuances as it goes, before arriving at the smoky jazz club and the great sax work at the end of I Did. CD2 is generally more subtle, but somehow more insidious than CD1, and Apparition #4 recalls Philip Glass’s hypnotic theme to Koyanisqaatsi. The recurring rhythm is indeed the ghost in the machine, and the repetitive nature of the backbeat becomes fascinating due to incremental changes in the rhythm as the album, and time itself progresses. The instrumentation above the subtly shifting rhythm is the icing on the cake, an intuitive and intricate interweaving of reeds, brass, strings, keys and voices that finds one sinking into reverie on A Bridge. The title of the following track indicates a liking for early Soft Machine, no bad thing indeed, and the final track sums up the circular plot of Vertigo and the similar nature of the passage of time by reprising earlier themes, eventually climaxing with the most furious blowing on the album.

With Madeleine, Ghost Rhythms have made a captivating and highly musical tribute to a cinematic classic sound like the easiest thing in the world to pull off. A must for any jazz fan, and for any music fan not put off by the word “jazz” and not hidebound by genre restrictions.


01. Another Bridge (2:56)
02. I Did Not (8:00)
03. Tree Ashes (5:28)
04. Carlotta Valdes (15:52)
05. Apparition #2 (5:32)
06. Falaise (2:03)
07. Free Fall (4:27)
08. Apparition #1 (7:00)
09. Phalènes (1:33)
10. L’Alphée (4:49)
11. Apparition #3 (7:30)

Total time – 65:17

01. Aleph (12:35)
02. Relief (5:30)
03. Ravin (1:42)
04. Disparition (3:30)
05. I Did (7:43)
06. Mary Rose (0:21)
07. Apparition #4 (6:25)
08. A Bridge (8:31)
09. Vie D’Émile Sagée (5:50)
10. Pour Toi (Mais Tu N’Écoutais Pas) (3:40)
11. La Circulaire (7:07)

Total time – 63:00

Guillaume Aventurin – Guitar
Sarah Baroux – Voice
Maxime Berton – Soprano Saxophone, Flutes, Bass Clarinet
Julien Bigorgne – Flute
Virginie Boulignat – Violin
Sonia Bricout – Voice
Alexis Collin – Accordion
Xavier Gélard – Drums, Guitar, Voice
Grégory Kosovoski – Bass
Morgan Lowenstein – Percussion
Nadia Mejri-Chappelle – Cello
Camille Petit – Keyboards, Voice
Régis Pons – Trumpet
David Rousselet – Tenor Saxophone
Maxime Thiébaut – Soprano, Alto and Baritone Saxophones

Record Label: Lem Records
Catalogue#: LEM 003
Year Of Release: 2015

Ghost Rhythms: Facebook | Bandcamp