Thôt agrandi
work on axis- doc 67 - press


jazzman september 2004


Le Monde de la musique september 2004


Work on axis****

Thôt Enlarged means Thôt gone up to the next level. Reaping the benefits of residency in l’Estaminet de Magny-les-Hameaux, the quartet has almost tripled by hiring 7 more musicians, partly coming from the Belgian scene. They’re partially doubled, since a second drummer, Frank Vaillant, has hooked on to the first, Christophe Lavergne; a second guitarist, Pierre Van Doarmel, joins Gilles Coronado; and even a second saxophonist, Guillaume Orti, takes his place next to Stéphane Payen, the leader of this ensemble and the architect of its repertory. But Thôt stretches also to deeper sounds when the tuba of Michel Massot doubles the bass of Hubert Dupont and weaves colors that the flutes of Pierre Bernard, the trumpet of Laurent Blondiau and the clarinets of Antoine Prawerman offer. Faithful to his compositional style, Payen has modeled a repertory that gradually unfolds its concentric circles, overlapping eccentric loops whose meeting points are on levels that reinforce the tension of their compositions. The colors remain obscure, strident sounds are allowed; we’re almost in a trance. When we’re so used to repetition we can be thrown off, but with the music rotating around itself, the unrelenting scrolling of its cycles is offered like a fascinating passing object for the soloists who are pushed out of their orbit. Luckily, the music leads to the light of epiphany that places the instrumentalist at the center, even if it sometimes takes a while for it to erupt. Vincent Bessières

Work on axis****
1 Cd Quoi de neuf docteur 3 448963506721
(distribué par Night and Day)

Directed by Stéphane Payen (alto sax) and composed by Gilles Coronado (guitar), Hubert Dupont (electric bass and double bass) and Christophe Lavergne (drums), the group Thôt is a spin-off from the Hask collective, a Parisian galaxy of musicians in the wake of M’Base of Steve Coleman. They share his concerns of musical arithmetic, overlapping tempos and meters. Barren, the music of Stephane Payen reaps the fruits of his hard labor, growing more and more flexible and natural as time goes by. It deepens through real composition, showing rhythmic conceptions that contaminate melodic, harmonic and even orchestral aspects. Thôt welcomes recruits from the galaxies of Hask (the drummer Franck Vaillant, the saxophonist Guillaume Orti) and Belgian musicians with neighboring concerns: Pierre Bernard (flute), Michet Massot (tuba, trombone), Antoine Prawerman (clarinets), Pierre Van Doarmel (guitar), all improvisers and exceptional instrumentalists. With this « growth », it gains depth of field in this vertiginous exercise of illusion. A fascinating sound kaleidoscope!
François Marinot


Jazzosphère september 2004

The first album of the Parisian group Thôt came out four years ago. This first work symbolized a human adventure that had begun in 1996 by four musicians well versed in polyrhythms, balancing written and improvised music and direct confrontation. Thôt is all that and more so. It’s above all the construction of an open repertory where collective playing dominates individual virtuostic technique. The most important is elsewhere. From this osmosis, music that is free is born, imposing its newness and its perpetual movement. That, Stéphane Payen, the founder and animator of Thôt, has understood. Work on axis presents another aspect of Thôt, separate from the initial group that follows its « own evolution ». This other aspect results in reaching out to other partners, hence the name Thôt Enlarged. This new structure, created from its residency in l’Estaminet (Magny-les-Hameaux) in October 2002, presents the original group « augmented » by a few of the best musicians from the Belgian scene (the flutist Pierre Bernard, the clarinetist Antoine Prawerman, the trumpet player Laurent Blondiau, the tuba player Michel Massot and the guitarist Pierre Van Doarmel) and old friends (Guillaume Orti and Frank Vaillant). From this large group Stéphane Payen exploits the additions and especially the new sound palette he’s given. Two discs in eight years merely seems like an anecdote, but listening to Work on axis shows that it’s not necessary to do more to stake out rich music full of perspectives. .. (SéM)