Blackshaw, James – “Fantomas: Le Faux Magistrat” – [Tompkins Square]
Blackshaw leads a chamber-type quartet through a musical suite that accompanies Louis Feuillade’s 1914 silent film “Fantomas: Le Faux Magistrat.” This performance was recorded live at a Parisian theater October 2013. Blackshaw, best known as a guitarist, also plays grand piano here. The other three musicians play a wide variety of instruments among them: guitars, piano, saxophone, flute, vibraphone, violin, bass guitar, synthesizer, percussion, and electronics. The music throughout is quite beautiful in a melancholy way, and the recorded sound is excellent. Tracks A3 and D1 start as soundscapey things (tone poems?) and develop into something more musical. There is a recurring motif that shows up at various times throughout the album–an insistent pedal tone sort of thing on the low notes of Blackshaw’s piano. Nothing here really stands out musically on its own, but as accompaniment to a silent film, I’m sure it serves its purpose well.