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Masked Pickle is the free improvising trio of French vocal artist Clara Weil, electric bass player Olivia Scemama and Belgian drummer Tom Malmendier (who collaborated before with Weil in a quartet with Fred Frith and cellist anil Erasian, «There or Here or That», Eux Sæm, 2020, and plays with Scemama in the duo Teostok and the trio Manolito). True to its absurdist title, Masked Pickle experiments with genre-binding, spontaneous textures that encompasses influents from opera to jazz, punk, metal and even traditional music.

«7» is the debut album of this trio and it offers six pieces, all highlighting the singular voices – literally – of Weil, Malmendier and Scemama and their unconventional improvising approaches. Wil begins with a stream of wordless, dadaist vocalizations on the opening piece «780», while Malmendier and Scemama ornament her irresistible, dramatic flow of abstract but expressive musings with noisy, subversive interventions, and eventually lead Weil into a quiet, meditative plea. «362» deconstructs a traditional song format, with Weil’s sudden screaming and yelling while Malmendier and Scemama inject urgent and pulse-free noisy sounds.

Other pieces stress the unique playing of Scemama, who plays also the double bass in other outfits, was active in the local metal scene and plays also in pop, jazz, hip-hop, dance and theatre projects. Her electric bass playing becomes a part alien, part industrial sound generator, always surprising with its nuanced, suggestive and dark sounds. Malmendier never lets the busy commotion fall into familiar patterns and is always ready to add more energy to all the spontaneous improvisations and solidify the deep affinity of this trio.

Eyal Hareuveni

Clara Weil (v), Olivia Scemama (b), Tom Malmendier (dr)

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