Nary a single second of Escale feels superfluous. Track after track, canvasses for expression are established, occupied, broken down and eventually transformed. The compositions build in remarkable fashion, and that doesn’t necessarily always translate to a crescendo in volume or vigour.
Bassist/bandleader/pianist/vocalist/engineer/producer extraordinaire Carl Mayotte is a master of making his compositions feel organic and like breathing. Irresistible earworm (try getting that guitar ostinato out of your head) Au milieu de nulle part starts by gradually adding complexity to its initial groove, and just when the proverbial beat feels ready to drop, everything comes down. The subsequent bass solo leads back into the first motif seamlessly, which essentially resets the clock and adds dimensionality to the dance. Turning another corner, the band drops out again to give way to ambient noise, foreshadowing the sombre and meditative Hiver. This track is a brilliant showcase of Mayotte’s warm bass tone and his proclivity to utilize the entire range of his instrument when improvising. There is also a lot to love about the variety of layered bass tones used, from the dominant warbly sound more characteristic of a fretless approach, to the understated and hushed tones arpeggiating in the left channel during the outro. Also central to Mayotte’s music is the use of simple repeated phrases, percussion and rhythm that drives every track. Escale has an undeniable, infectious pulse behind it.