My english friends call them the-band-with-the-name-I-never-remember and I admit it's pretty much unpronouncable. However, Orchestre Tout Puissant Marcel Duchamp (roughly translated as "All Mighty Orchestra Marcel Duchamp") is a name with a program. It not only contains a reference to some of the most mythical bands of West-Africa (Orchestre Tout Puissant Konono n°1, Orchestre Tout Puissant Polyrytmo etc. etc.) but also to one of the biggest dynamiters of 20th century art. (…and of course "all mighty" evokes a whole string of associations beside african bands!)
It started as a one night stand in Geneva's eclectic and experimental venue "Cave12" with Vincent Bertholet (bass) solidly in charge of operations. The one-time collective evolved into a full blown band only over time and with several changes of lineup. However the ingredients were there right from the start: the forces of free disorder, the pulverised alphabet of rock 'n' roll, the science of contemporary music, the effrontery of punk, the speculative fantasies of intellectual music and remembered facets of popular music.
Around Vincent Bertholet's obstinate double bass riffs, Maël Saletes' striking and stumbling guitar lines keep up a hypnotic dialogue. The melodic counterpoint of Aïda Diop's marimba, here voluble and danceable, there more pointillistic, and Mathias Forge's trombone, groove impeccably along on the drumming of Wilf Plum (who we know from the legendary Dog Faced Hermans, a notable influence on OTPMD) whose playing lays down a groove of soul shivers and rhythm 'n' blues syncopation. We'll say no more until we have talked about the majestic singing of Liz Moscarola (violinist and with Bertholet the only remaining original band member) who casts spells, enchants the world as if it were nothing. It's a voice with an infinitely varied register of expression: machine-gun talk over, onomatopoeia pushed to the limits of language, melodies unfurled with a sweet movement or broken jingles. Liz Moscarola is as amusing as she is moving and her absolute naturalness borders on white magic.
Today Orchestre Tout Puissant presents ROTOROTOR, a thrilling third album produced by John Parish (P.J Harvey, Eels, Giant Sand, Dominique A…) and recorded by Ali Chant at Toybox Studio in Bristol. ROTOROTOR (a nod to Duchamp's famous rotoreliefs and to the latter's taste for palindromes) is a manifesto for free and adventurous music, organised in versatile pop songs; playful and fervent, incandescent, funny and impetuous, assuming without ostentation a sort of fragmented futurist traditionalism, combining festivity and war, wedding dances and battle-cries.
- Band URLs: www.otpmd.ch