4 Bonjour's Parties: Pigments Drift Down To The Brook

The seven-member, Tokyo-based ensemble 4 Bonjour's Parties brings an expansive chamber-group sensibility to its debut full-length Pigments Drift Down To The Brook. The group dresses its intricately structured compositions in ornate arrangements where vibes, woodwinds, glockenspiel, accordion, keyboards, horns, and sweetly harmonizing male and female voices resound over an anchoring base of guitar, bass, and drums.

The septet follows the wonderland overture “Magpie Will Peck A Hole In My Plaster Cast” with “Satellite” where flutes and saxophones weave breezily over galloping rhythms. Shifting stylistic gears, “Il Cortile Grigio” presents a stately piano ballad nicely enhanced by clarinet while “Nostalgic Was Broken To Pieces” is as dreamily wistful as its title suggests. With its child-like female vocals, “Ruins” would be excessively sugary were it not saved by disarmingly appealing melodies. Similarly, the first half of “Amalthea” verges on sounding overly mellow but is likewise melodically strong, and the song is further bolstered by a robust, full-bodied arrangement in its second half.

The group's serious attention to song structure and luxuriant arrangements seems almost old-fashioned but not unwelcomingly so. One thing the band might take into consideration for future outings is the value of concision; Pigments Drift Down To The Brook's hour-long duration is about ten minutes too long for a ten-song set of this genre type. Having said that, at the risk of contradiction, it must also be said that the nine-minute “Otogima Horse” may be the album's most impressive piece as the band deftly navigates the piece's complex arrangement and serpentine pathways with aplomb. In this case, the band makes every second count.

February 2008