Imagho & Mocke: Half Quartet
Three:four Records

Now here's a fresh idea: a recording featuring two guitarists, one an acoustic player and the other electric. It's a simple concept, but one that reaps strong dividends, as shown by the material featured on Imagho & Mocke's Half Quartet. For the project, French guitarists Imagho (aka JL Prades) and Mocke (a member of various outfits, including Midget!, Holden, Arlt, and Swann Arlt) convened for two days at the end of December 2013 at Imagho's studio and laid down the tunes live, with Imagho's Guild acoustic complemented by Mocke's Jazzmaster. Though one presumes that the goals the two brought to the undertaking were modest, the album turns out to be rather special in an unassuming way.

The eleven pieces—all composed by Imagho, by the way—are best described as songs, given the strong melodic character of the album. One of the most affecting is surely the opener, “Le Vieux,” a gentle, waltz-styled reverie that sees Mocke draping a haunting electric theme and elegant solo across Imagho's lilting acoustic backdrop. Some settings, such as “Song for SG,” are especially lyrical, while “Song for Franck” is so evocative in mood, one could imagine it forming part of the soundtrack for an early Truffaut film.

A few loud moments in “La mort de Richard” aside, the tone of the music is melancholy, peaceful, and wistful, and the style, despite the presence of electric guitar, is closest to folk than anything else, especially when the feel is so generally laid-back. The listener sometimes even feels as if he/she is sitting in on the session with the guitarists, given the intimate nature of the recording. A pleasing languor attends the settings, and the thirty-six-minute set proves to be a soothing listen indeed.

A few surprises occur along the way—during some parts of “Paladru,” Mocke's woodsy tone suggests a clarinet—but for the most part all one hears are the sounds of the guitars. An album refreshingly free of affectation and pretension, Half Quartet proves that music of timeless quality can be brought into being from nothing more than two guitars, four microphones, and two artful creators.

August-September 2014