Album Review: Chassol – Ludi [Tricatel; March 2020]

French composer and musician Christophe Chassol, who has collaborated with Frank Ocean and Solange, has become known for “ultrascore”, a musical technique that can be thought of as harmonising reality. Ludi (released on 6th March 2020 via Tricatel) is his latest effort applying this technique, as he continues to draw from R&B, soul, jazz, funk, Classical and electronic influences.

In preparation for Ludi, a double album and multimedia concept, Chassol used ultrascore by filming real-life situations, sampling monophonic sounds that are repeated and spliced, before melody lines are applied. The situations are built around games and playtime, resulting in a soundscape that captures the carefree attitude many of us lose as we enter adulthood.

“Savana Céline Aya” Pts 1 and 2 capture this tone perfectly, set in a playground as children participate in a clapping game. The music captures both the serenity of gameplay and inevitable moments of confusion as mistakes are and the game is resumed.

Across “I Think The Game” Pts 1 to 4, you initially feel like you are entering a dark virtual reality game with no escape, before being brought back to reality as someone explains the rules of the game. Pt 3 is when this snapshot comes into its own as bass, piano chords, drum beats, synths and backing vocals are then layered to produce a lounge vibe.  

With “Dribbles & Beats” / “Camarades”, something as trivial as a basketball can be transformed into a beautiful whirlwind. Elsewhere, “Rollercoaster” (set in a Japanese theme park) stands out as not needing any context, as it propels you forward with an enthusiasm and passion for life.

But if “Rollercoaster” could be seen as a kid in a candy store, its sister track “Slowcoaster”, which closes the whole project, is the same kid crashing after a long day out, without a care  in the world.

Ludi can be appreciated for the eccentricity Chassol expresses and allows us to tap into: like a fly on a wall that soon becomes fixated on one individual for seemingly no reason. That said, it can be off-putting for those wanting more out-and-out songs than what can feel like a stream of interludes with little pay-off.