VARIOUS ARTISTS: Musique Pour Statues Menhirs (Arbouse Recordings)


Posted on Jun 5th 2009 12:53 am

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V/A: Musique Pour Statues Menhirs

Musique Pour Statues Menhirs
Arbouse Recordings 2009
21 Tracks. 123mins59secs

The musée Fenaille, in Rodez, South of France, is an archaeological museum which has in its collection a wide array of ‘statues menhirs’, or carved stones which are the first known life-size representations of man. Local record label Arbouse Recordings commissioned a number of artists to create a soundtrack for the museum collection, each providing one track to the project, and three of them were later invited to perform live in the museum.

The panel of musicians and sound artists invited to take part to the project is extremely diverse, with the likes of Fennesz, Benoît Pioulard, John Hughes, Sylvain Chauveau, Greg Davis, Schneider TM, Mapstation, Mira Calix or Jasper TX, rubbing shoulders with less known contributors such as ww.lowman, Rafael Anton Irisarri, Astrïd, Serafina Steer, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma or Orla Wren to create a truly evocative and sumptuous document which constantly shifts between dense soundscapes, ambient electronic, delicate avant-folk or truly experimental, yet appears surprisingly consistent and meaningful. And this is very much the tour de force achieved with this record, to combine musicians coming from such diverse backgrounds and create a very coherent piece.

Initially, Fennesz, Rafael Anton Irisarri, David Daniell,  ww.lowman or Benoît Pioulard create somewhat sombre and meditative pieces with their respective contributions, while Parlour offers the much more contrasted A Permanent Night, breaking up the mood for a moment, but soon the tone becomes richer, more diverse, first with the beautiful I Guess This Is Yours That You Haven’t Picked, by young British harpist Serafina Steer, who processes her instrument and renders it through moody electronics, then with the delicate motifs created by John Hughes or Astrïd, the former in a predominantly electronic register, the latter with guitars, strings, double bass and clarinet.

Later on, abstract sound formations of the likes created by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Greg Davis or Schneider TM, find their place next to much lighter and melodic pieces, from Orla Wren and Zelienople to Nathan Bell, Melodium or Mapstation, while Sylvain Chauveau creates the typically bare and sparse La Chanson Des Pierres, which almost appears to mimic the static nature of the stones at the heart of the project. Mira Calix’s epic contribution is built from sounds sourced from stones of various sizes and ornamented with abstract string work, electronics and field recordings. Later, Jasper TX, who is closing proceedings, offers a typical piece where processed guitars and field recordings are arranged into incredibly vast and ambitious soundscapes. Just before, vs_price launches a virulent electronic assault on this otherwise relatively introspective project.

Musique Pour Statues Menhirs is a project like no other, and the resulting soundtrack is nothing short of stunning. It is difficult to understand fully how these compositions could work within the context of the permanent exhibition of the museum’s collection of carved stones, but the great variety of approach and genres collated here works surprisingly well as a standalone piece and acts as one of the strongest document of contemporary music heard in a long time.


Icon: arrow Arbouse Recordings | Musée Fenaille

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