Born in 1971 into a family of musicians, Ankoudinoff studied at the Liège Conservatoire, in Garrett List's improvisation class in the company of Michel Massot. Then, with adventure in mind, he expanded his musical horizons, firstly with the holders of European free jazz Fred van Hove and André Goudbeek, and secondly with the Gnawas from Marrakech and Baudouin de Jaer's Circus of sound. He also composed music, both for Mogador Island, with ten compositions for the saxophone and double bass, and for Mû, a solo project. Then he founded Animus Anima with Benoist Eil on electric guitar, a self-taught musician drawn by rock's dazzling speed and improvised flight. A manipulator of sound, he joined Rêve d'Eléphant Orchestra and Tout est joli. Pascal Rousseau on tuba is a third founding member of the group. A graduate of the Paris Conservatoire, he may be found both in the contemporary music ensemble Ictus and Bruno Régnier’s Xtet, as well as in MikMâäk, the band directed by Laurent Blondiau. Rounding out the quartet on the drums is Etienne Plumer who, like Ankiudinoff, qualified from Garrett List's improvisation class. A member of Turlu Tursu and Garrett List's Orchestra Vivo!, he joined Rêve d'Eléphant Orchestra as soon as the septet was formed.
So far, Animus Anima has recorded four albums: Live in Brussels (2005), Le bénéfice du doute in (2007), Qu'est-ce que tu crois? (2010) and in 2016, Résidence sur la terre, an album for which they were joined by Giovanni di Domenico's keyboard group, the percussionist Stéphan Pougin and the trumpeter Bart Maris. "I met Bart a few years ago in a free project which was called Brussels Improvisers Orchestra formed by André Goudbeek, and I had said to myself that I would like to do something with him, as our chemistry was good. I saw Stéphan with Rêve d'Eléphant Orchestra: there is something very organic about him, a kind of meta-understanding, just as with Etienne. I composed music for the whole ten years that the group was in existence and I made use of the festive occasion to invite both musicians: drums and percussion for dance and rhythm, and the trumpet to engage in dialogue with the saxophone. To a greater or lesser extent, every work was inspired by a composer: Ravel, Stravinsky, Reich, Shankar, Ornette Coleman. We also listened to Led Zeppelin and Archie Shepp, and masses of Messiaen and Deep Purple."
The album features seven original compositions of varying climates, written with scholarly architecture. Danceable themes with colourful rhythms are punctuated by humming tubas on the tracks 'Atmosphère atmosphère' and 'Marée basse', whilst the compositions 'Baloo Stardust' and 'Low Tide' feature intricate percussion work. The album’s penultimate piece, 'Terre Eve', meanwhile, offers up an irresistibly lush, sensual melody. Room is made throughout the album for the soloists to shine, with tenor sax on 'Atmosphere', tuba on 'Zaaien', a strong improvised intro by the trumpet on 'Atmosphere', acrobatic guitar playing with a highly saturated sound on the very rock 'Nomad's Land', and the dialogue-like traded solos of the tenor and trumpet on 'Zaaien'. In a nutshell, Nicolas Ankpudinoff makes music which, like the image of the "animus-anima" concept (male-female), finds the balance between writing and improvisation, between furious rock jazz and carnal ballads.
With its wide variety of sound, Animus Anima is one of the most colourful formations in contemporary jazz.