Tellemake: Scarbo

A one-time drummer who wearied of the rock grind, Christophe Guiraud set off to find experimental happiness and apparently found it under the name Tellemake and a style of shape-shifting music that collapses the boundaries separating jazz, electronica, and noise. On Scarbo's 11 pieces, recognizable sounds intermittently surface—accordion, percussion, strings, organ, vibraphone, drums, voices—but they're all treated like so much raw material that Guiraud shapes into meandering, typically lurching settings. Those wanting an analogical reference need look no further than So, Markus Popp's 2003 collaboration with Eriko Toyoda, as Scarbo, by design, evidences a similar lack of definition as voices and instruments blur into hazy masses of smears and static. There's no denying it's a distinctive sound world: in “Ahnen,” the amplified swish of drum brushes butts up against the wheeze of an accordion and the clatter of cowbells while high-pitched cries and croaks suggest Tellemake's sampling route included stops at an aviary and pond. Album closer “Sure” comes closest to a conventional song structure, even if its sour mix of lurching drums, string scrapes, and piano may leave you feeling more than a little queasy. Scarbo's a far from pleasant listen, to be sure, though one can't help but admire the conviction with which Guiraud pursues his idiosyncratic vision.

August 2006