The pieces on Bonjour's eponymous debut album are musical snapshots. Performed in no particular order, each one represents a day of the week and its associated mood, and some, like "Friday 3 PM," are more specific than others.
Ghys draws on the Indian classical tradition of raga, the Western classical tradition, jazz and other popular music to craft his own idiosyncratic style that by turns builds like the best kind of post-rock anthem, grooves like a hocket-obsessed West African funk band, and has the harmonic vocabulary of a synthesizing sponge with a diplomatic passport. The players’ voices are alternately treated as additional melodic instruments or as dictaphones spewing nonsensical parallel quotes from a variety of literary, news, and other sources, as in "Monday Morning".
The combination of vocals with guitars (electric and acoustic) and percussion, which includes everything from drum kit to melodica and glockenspiel, all of it fleshed out by several lush and pliable layers of lower strings, yields a surprising array of textures in which to become lost and then find one’s way out of, or to just relish staying lost in for a while.
Bonjour was a part of the show "New Sounds" #3901 by John Schaefer called "Music for the Days of the Week". Music also by Seven Saturdays, Leah Kardos, Stockhausen, and E.S.T.
"[Bonjour] makes jazz-laced indie pop, and music that can feel woozy, off-kilter and “art-damaged.” The tunes are named the way that ragas are assigned definite times of the day, during which the music would be at the height of its melodic beauty" - John Schaefer
Our album was selected "Best of Bandcamp Contemporary Classical" in November 2016
"Inspired by the group of string players involved in the Bang on a Can organization, Florent Ghys, a New York-based composer and bassist born in Bordeaux, France, decided to assemble a working ensemble to play his compositions, with a decided emphasis on low strings. This nimble quintet, Bonjour, performs a seven-piece suite of songs written to evoke particular times and days of the week. Their crisply precise performances, with all members adding mostly wordless vocal parts, bristle with thrilling hocketing techniques, particularly between the double basses of the leader and Eleonore Oppenheim, as the group essays the darkly melodic writing with a rock-like drive powered by the drumming of Owen Weaver. The guitars of James Moore and the cello of Ashley Bathgate trace contrapuntal action that alternates between exuberant and somber." - Peter Margasak
"Florent Ghys and Bonjour Rock Out with High-Energy Debut"
"Bonjour the band is a muscular, but flexible ensemble – capable of rocking out as required, but more often functioning as a sort of prism, delicately diffracting the sound of Ghys's bass across a spectrum of low-frequency sound. His writing uses imitative processes to answer and transform a musical idea instantly, and with the sensitivity of a fine string quartet, every member of the Bonjour band matches each other's sound to create a funhouse of distorting mirrors, echoes, and shadows.
Each track is named after a particular moment – "Sunday," "Monday Morning," "Friday 3PM" – and no wonder. Freed from overdubs, videos, and clicks, Bonjour is a Florent Ghys album that lives in the here and now."
I've replied to 5 questions by Thomas Deneuville about the release of our album.
"The perfect soundtrack for any day of the week"
"[Bonjour is] a series of musical snapshots capturing the moods of various days and times throughout the week. Performed in no particular order, each piece offers a refined glimpse into the sounds and sentiments of everyday living, from the jumbled, hazy newscasts of Monday morning to the chaotic afternoon distractions of Friday at 3pm.
Ghys was loosely inspired by the tradition of the Indian raga, in which different scales or modes are associated with different times of day. Fascinated by the idea that a pitch set could have its own mood, color, and specific timeframe, Ghys began applying these principles to his daily music practice.
He also, of course, combined them with his trademark jazz grooves, classical composition background, idiosyncratic bass hooks, and inimitable pop music sensibilities. Mix it all together and voilà! You have Bonjour." - Maggie Molloy
"Bonjour was founded in 2012 by composer and bassist Florent Ghys. By combining low strings - basses cellos, and guitars - with drums, pitched percussion, melodica, and voices, Ghys was able to create music which flows effortlessly across genres, creating a unique sound that is “equal parts groove, melody and meditation.” This release is Bonjour’s self-titled debut. The work is performance-based, but is still compelling in nature. Jazz and new classical influences can be heard in these works, but with an edge that pushes the music toward adventure, edginess, and the slightly avant-garde. Ghys is joined by cellist Ashley Bathgate, guitarist James Moore, bassist Eleonore Oppenheim, and percussionist Owen Weaver. This release precedes a series of New York City performances which will begin in September 2016."
"This nimble quintet, Bonjour, performs a seven-piece suite of songs written to evoke particular times and days of the week. Their crisply precise performances, with all members adding mostly wordless vocal parts, bristle with thrilling hocketing techniques, particularly between the double basses of the leader and Eleonore Oppenheim, as the group essays the darkly melodic writing with a rock-like drive powered by the drumming of Owen Weaver. The guitars of James Moore and the cello of Ashley Bathgate trace contrapuntal action that alternates between exuberant and somber."