I like the ‘about’ comment on Jono Heyes’ Bandcamp page that observes, “…his music gallops across borders like a giraffe.” Certainly there was plenty of justification to that in his super 2018 release ‘9 Pilgrims’, including the whimsical cover art to the album that really does successfully traverse Africa, Arabia and much of Europe in its musical references.
This one is quite different in that it is a collection of instrumental pieces commissioned for the soundtrack to a would-be film entitled, as is Heyes’ album, ‘Monsieur Rayon’s Gramophone’. Given uncertainty as to whether the film will actually go ahead he was granted permission by the film-makers to release these sonic backdrop ‘works in progress’ separately. The remarkable French gentleman of the title evidently conceived scores of wonderfully odd and imaginative inventions in the 1800s, and the film was written based on some of his very recently discovered unpublished journals.
As a listener it does help to have that background understanding because the 10 delicate and carefully paced tracks are inevitably less of a long legged trans-continental gallop, more like a tight moving tableau as encapsulated in the title of third track Like Floating. If you were picturing a perfect environment to listen to this album it would be in a wooden rowing boat, floating gently through one of those ultra peaceful river settings frequently seen in the elaborate old masters’ paintings that populate art museums.
Actually that’s the only song title in English, the rest mainly French with a few Czech and Spanish exceptions, likely moving around with the film’s scenes. Heyes’ delicately finger-picked guitar is central, but all tracks are augmented with supportingly restful strings, woodwinds and keys, this time all his own work, excellently played and captured. Being scene-based some are only around two minutes duration and the whole album drifts by within the half hour – demanding in its gentle way to be rowed back out into the stream for another passage, because you know there is more pleasure to be found.