tue 20/11/2018

CD: Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch - Époques | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch - Époques

CD: Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch - Époques

Jarring juxtapositions on minimalist pianist-composer’s second album

Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch's 'Époques': attractively dark

At its most impactful, Époques is an aural analogue to the occasions in Tarkovsky’s Stalker when the explorers of “The Zone” find their perceptions of what might be reality warped, and when there’s a growing realisation that this may be a place with a consciousness. Rather than being blurred, boundaries have become meaningless. With the album’s “The Only Water”, creaking, sawing strings and whooshing sounds give way to a structured composition where forward steps are impeded by a heavy yet impalpable object. The even-more brooding “Ultramarine” meshes rasping cello with ominous booming and white noise.

Époques though is not entirely defined by the fusion of minimalist piano, cello, violin, electronics and odd snatches of bass guitar. There are solo piano pieces too. The album’s glistening opener “Martello” utilises spare keyboard work and culminates in dynamic swirls of cascading notes. “Redux” begins more forcefully with rolling chordal clusters and sustains its pace and tension throughout.

The disconnect between overt minimalism and the comprehensive arrangements is paralleled by Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch’s dislocated approach to completing Époques. She composed at Imogen Holst’s piano but did not record with it. Individual notes were captured by a laptop for playing back on a midi keyboard after which the results were replayed on a different, actual, piano in the recording studio. Was such midstream recreation necessary?

Although Debussy comes to mind during the solo piano pieces, the principal points of reference are the early Ólafur Arnalds of ...And They Have Escaped the Weight of Darkness and Jóhann Jóhannsson’s The Miners' Hymns had it been rendered with the barest of elements. Unlike them, the London-based Levienaise-Farrouch is a French pianist-composer rather than one from Iceland. Époques is her second album and is, indeed, issued by an imprint of the label which released The Miners' Hymns.

While Époques is attractively dark, the juxtaposition of solo meditations and collaborative pieces (with string players from The London Contemporary Orchestra) can jar. Each side of this coin is arresting but Levienaise-Farrouch may have more clearly articulated her voice if one of the paths had been chosen.

The brooding 'Ultramarine' meshes rasping cello with ominous booming and white noise

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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