Originally recorded in 1985, Comme Au Moulin is the first and only album from French experimental group Nyssa Musique. A culmination of years of playing loosely structured, mostly improvisational music in concert and to soundtrack dance performances, the album is a staggering and unique work, melding jazz with eastern traditional styles to create truly unique music without boundaries.
Nyssa Musique formed in the early ‘80s and played most of their music in front of a live audience, either within the confines a contemporary dance studio above Paris’s famed New Morning music venue (their primary rehearsal space) or at various venues around town. The band’s five members each brought a unique skillset, background, and musical perspective that would help Nyssa Musique embrace unorthodox experimentation as the norm. Armand Amar and John Boswell were synthesizer and hand percussion specialists, both having studied traditional drumming in India and the Middle East. Joining Amar and Boswell in the group were Jean-François Roger, percussionist, marimba and vibraphone player, Henri Tournier, flutist, Renaud Garcia-Fons, contrabass player.
Nyssa Musique played together for years before recording their first album, honing their style through mostly improvisational performances for local dance troupes and stunning concerts in some of Paris’s hottest venues. These live performances were said to be a sight to behold, as the band utilized a staggering array of traditional instruments to bring their music to life. Everything from djembes to gongs to maracas to bells might be used on any given night, showcasing a veritable museum of instruments.
The band’s melting pot of styles is represented in full on Comme Au Moulin. Although strongly influenced by contemporary classical, minimal and repetitive musical styles (Philip Glass, Terry Riley and Jon Hassell are noted as having a key impact), the music is also closely linked to the spiritual jazz stylings of legends like Pharoah Sanders and Don Cherry, albeit imbued with eastern melodic signatures and new age flavor through the subtle use of synthesizers. This melding of styles, improvisation and hybridization of melodies makes for a complex, hypnotic listen, a lost gem in the annals of experimental music.