Hailing from Montreal, Canada, Daniel Heikalo is a musician with a lot to share. He is quite a prolific musician as well. Pérégrinations is his forty-ninth release, making his repertoire quite extensive. Somewhere between jazz, blues, world music influences, electro-acoustic tinges and electronic sparks, we find Pérégrinations reveling in its eccentric and weirdly laid back approach. Extensive genre bending isn’t the only highlight either: Daniel plays basically all the instruments on the album, but also composed, programmed, recorded, and mixed the entire record.
It’s difficult to say exactly when one of the stylistic influences ends and where the other begins. The album is rife with a finely tuned equilibrium between all its moving parts. It has a very soft and organic flow, both in terms of instrumentation and arrangement. While it begins quite light-hearted and dynamic, by the end, it comes to something of a contemplative demeanor, reaching slightly into the realm of melancholy. In between, we have a smooth and experimental glide from one end to the other. The way the record is produced aptly gives nuance and contour to all the ideas that are being brought forth.
The title track and opener is fleshed out with a very bright attitude and an easy going vibe that glides the listener effortlessly into the journey ahead. It focuses primarily on the texture of the mood it’s voicing, rather than attempting to elaborate a clearer idea. This style of focus remains fairly consistent throughout the album, with “Intermède Dissonant” and “Réactions” being notable exceptions. They offer some welcome dynamics to the entire package, leaning more on an experimental, or even improvisational experience.
While the backbone of Pérégrinations is for the better part rooted in blues; it reaches out into jazz territory with occasional forays into electronic environments and various other much smaller areas in terms of scope. Where we see “On niaise pu avec le puck!” and “Le blues d’la rue Beaudry” adhering to the blues aesthetic with a very relaxed delivery; on the flip side, tracks like “Valse circulaire” and “Intermède Dissonant” embrace electronic timbres with great success, making things all the more interesting and enjoyable. The jazzy overtones are hard to pin down, but surface evenly across, as do the world music influences transpire ever so slightly in the moods that are being addressed. The last two songs, “Prelude en mi mineur” and “Valse lente pour Tamara” come together as the emotional highlight of the album, going in deeper than the rest and creating a nice contrast between the rest of the moods that have been elaborated.
Pérégrinations is a smorgasbord of easy going, yet ingenious phrasings that excels in being soft, groovy, and engaging, in spite of the breezy tonality which gives everything color and shape. Daniel Heikalo fine tunes a delicate blend of vastly different things into a cohesive and riveting affair. It is not often that we run across an album that traverses so much territory with such grace. We are provided with a sweet listening experience that is sure to stir one thing or another inside.