Antoine Fafard: Proto Mundi Featuring Simon Phillips - Full Session Video
Composer, bassist, and producer Antoine Fafard recently released a new solo project entitled "Proto Mundi." There is a CD, but also a video of the entire album performed in-studio by Simon Phillips (see below). It features:
- Antoine Fafard, bass and guitars
- Gary Husband, keys
- Jerry Goodman, violin
- Simon Phillips, drums
Fafard has a history of bringing together top-tier musicians to bring his musical ideas to life. Previous releases have included incredible drummers like Gavin Harrison, Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Weckl, and countless others. His dedication to quality production and superior musicianship has made each new album even better than the last, and Proto Mundi is no exception.
What makes Proto Mundi different, however, is that it is implemented as a concept album presenting a journey to leave an uninhabitable earth to settle on another planet. The CD contains a large booklet which presents a fully written story. The music, split into three lengthy pieces, supports the story (as does the artwork). One of the most exciting elements of Proto Mundi is the long-length songs. It feels more like a film soundtrack than a jazz/fusion CD. A dark, atmospheric feel is pervasive throughout, but there is plenty of excitement as well, expressed as huge solo sections and energetic melodies. The technical veracity of the music is hard to overstate - odd times, syncopated phrases, lengthy vamps, etc.
Interestingly, Fafard played both bass and all the guitars on this album. In the past, Fafard has usually left lead guitar parts to other musicians, and performed many of the rhythm parts himself. On this album, however, he performs both the rhythm and lead parts. Not only is the guitar work impressive (featuring both electric and acoustic), but the fact that he is able to maintain creativity during the countless, lengthy solo sections - both on bass AND on guitar - was quite shocking to me. Being a novice on piano, personally, I have a hard time coming up with a 16 bar solo for a blues song!
Of course, Gary Husband also plays several lengthy solos, with a dirty tone that will certainly hold your attention. Jerry Goodman's violin work seems uniquely well-suited for the dark and complex feel of Fafard's music. Feelings of desperation and uncertainty are contrasted with the thrill of discovery and excitement. I feel a bit guilty saying so little about these two musicians, because there work here is phenomenal. But, the music speaks for itself.
Before discussing the drumming, I want to mention what may be the most exciting element of Proto Mundi for me, which is the quality of the sound. Mixed and mastered by David Sgualdini, this album will stand as a reference point for sound engineering in my mind. Again, there isn't much more I can say here, other than you must hear it to believe it.
Simon Phillips and Fafard worked together to record the drum parts in a two day session at Real World Studios. The entire drum session is recorded and available for viewing, which is extremely exciting! Although it does not feature all of the band members playing together (impossible since Fafard was also responsible for guitar parts), Phillips and Fafard play together during the video. This creates a 'live' feel and the drum takes from the video performance are the same as those on the CD. Simon is an absolute monster, and this particular performance is especially exciting, due to the length of the tracks and the space he has to flex in this complex musical situation. The video performance is entirely focused on Simon Phillips, with a few bits of Antoine playing bass.
Last, but not least, the sound of the drums is among the best I have ever heard. His kit is massive,and it sounds massive when you listen. Sgualdini did an amazing job making these drums sound larger than life. When asked about my favorite drum recordings, Proto Mundi is now the first I mention.
You may purchase the video on Amazon for streaming below:
The CD set for Proto Mundi also includes "Doomsday Vault" which contains 15 tracks. It is a blend of remixes of old favorites and a few new pieces. Each is worth its weight in gold. You may purchase the CD bundle directly from Antoine Fafard below: