The Mindful Bard: Blancheneige Bazaar Orchestra

Books, Music, and Film to Wake Up Your Muse and Help You Change the World

Blancheneige Bazaar Orchestra

Albums: Blancheneige (debut album, 2005), Royale Aero d?Inde (2008).

Musicians: Bernard Benony, Pierre Cassat, Karim Humbert,Guy Khalepski, Ophir Levy, Nicolas Portnoï

Snow White and the Five Multi-ethnic Musical Giants

?To become truly immortal, a work of art must escape all human limits: logic and common sense will only interfere. But once these barriers are broken, it will enter the realms of childhood visions and dreams.?

Giorgio de Chirico

It’s always thrilling to see disparate musical patches sewn together so well that the seams hardly show, and with Blancheneige, the patches couldn’t be more disparate?nor the seams less visible.

Blancheneige has been active for a few years in Europe, where the band has developed a small but rapturous cult following, well-deserved because It’s hard to say how they could possibly get any better. Aside from the artfully conceived eclecticism, there is a hypnotic rhythm in every track, coupled with an urgency and drive that makes your heart race.

It’s funny how musicians can draw together elements that, politically at least, seem hopelessly divided. Elements of classical raga, reggae, raï, Gnawa, Sufi, klezmer, avant-garde, aleatoric music, Gregorian chant, Hawaiian guitar, Arabic music, sub-Saharan African drums, surfer guitar, and even classic jazz, free jazz, and bebop, make these two albums endlessly repeatable, eminently danceable, and testaments to the beauty of integration.

The haunted wailing of the ghetto denizen, the hymn of the mystic, the whirling dance of the dervish, the skulking vigilance of the partisan, the call to prayer, the rock anthem of a decadent youth, all are given voice by a handful of superlative musicians who seem to turn every genre into gold.

Both albums are swimming in complex but memorable tunes, vibrantly expressive improvisations, arrangements as tight as jigsaw puzzles, and odd little flourishes that emerge when you least suspect them? a ringing cell phone, the loud ?Hyah!? of a cattle rustler, a child’s music box, the rhythmic clanking of a chain gang, and?well, if you listen hard I’m sure you’ll find even more nuggets than I did.

With a disarming bravado, Blancheneige makes ironic, poetic, pathos-free musical comments on the human dilemma.

The music of the Blancheneige Bazaar Orchestra manifests six of the Mindful Bard’s criteria for music well worth hearing: 1) it stimulates my mind; 2) it harmoniously unites art with social action, saving me from both seclusion in an ivory tower and slavery to someone else’s political agenda; 3) it provides respite from a sick and cruel world, a respite enabling me to renew myself for a return to mindful artistic endeavour; 4) it gives me tools that help me be a better artist; 5) it is authentic, original, and delightful; and 6) it makes me appreciate that life is a complex and rare phenomenon, making living a unique opportunity.

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