A PERSONAL KEYBOARD ARCHEOLOGY – PART 5: “LE LABYRINTHE”, 2007, LES ONDES SILENCIEUSES

October 5, 2017 § 1 Comment

Even though outwardly my music is not autobiographical at all, there is always a deep connection between what I feel or would *like* to feel and the music I end up making, and if there is one album of mine that exemplifies this connection, it has to be Les ondes silencieuses.
I recorded it in winter 2006, after learning the basics of the viola da gamba for less than a year, getting a sabbatical from my teaching job, and returning from my first Japanese tour. Prior to the sabbatical, the incompatibility between teaching and music-making on a near-professional level had become more and more glaring every day, and I felt overwhelmed most of the time. Problematically, I still felt overwhelmed even *after* the sabbatical was granted to me, since I was able to accept more offers, and was also trapped in endless administrative tasks.
The trip to Japan proved crucial to the final twist I gave the album, which I’d already half-composed earlier in the year: if my life wasn’t giving me the sense of calm I so badly needed, then I would give my music that sense of calm, in the same way that the Japanese traditional aesthetics made spaces and objects radiate with beautiful, essential simplicity.


I was obsessed with the more introspective side of Baroque music at the time, and short of being able to include a real harpsichord, I managed to locate and rent a spinet, its more modest cousin: I brought it home for a couple of weeks, learnt to get used to its rather stiff action, and recorded “Le labyrinthe” in the living-room of my Paris flat. The silence between the notes in the first section, which strikes me as extreme now, felt entirely natural then, and given the almost complete absence of electricity on that album, dominated by my bass viola da gamba, it’s only natural that the keyboard that ended up on this album should have been made only of wood and metal.
This album has been reissued on coloured and black vinyl by The Leaf Label this year (available through my Bandcamp – also available on CD) and will see its first tape release on 14th October on Beacon Sound (EU customers can order through my Bandcamp, non-EU customers please head over directly to Beacon Sound’s website here ). Both the digital and tape versions contain two unreleased bonus tracks recorded live in Japan during the aforementioned tour. The album is also available on CD.
Artwork is by Iker Spozio.

A PERSONAL KEYBOARD ARCHEOLOGY – PART 4: “THE HAPPY SEA”, 2005, THE GOLDEN MORNING BREAKS

October 4, 2017 § Leave a comment

Of my three albums for Leaf, this is the one I feel closest to, perhaps because it taught me that I could just choose to do anything if I really wanted to – in this particular instance, playing about 10 different instruments on an album, all self-taught except for the guitar.  Three combined factors led me to abandoning sampling: when the time came to play live, I just could not imagine myself with a computer or just a sampler on stage; sampling had become joyless/stale as a method for making a second album (I immediately saw it wasn’t working anymore); and last but not least, having become a teacher, I finally had a proper income for the first time in my life, which enabled me to move from a 17m2  studio to a 40m2  one-bedroom flat – the pinnacle of luxury for a young person in Paris! – and which led to my I-am-going-to-buy-any-instrument-I-can-lay-my-hands-on -no-matter-how-small-or-shitty period, which lasted for about two years. I also acquired the pedals which proved crucial to my live shows for many years (the Boss Loopstation in its early incarnation, the Line6 DL4, and the Akai Headrush).

One of my acquisitions was a super cheap Casio AS67, which had one decent tone only, and that’s the one I used as the basis for “The happy sea”, run through a pretty extreme plugin (I can’t remember which one, but it’s responsible for the almost wah-wah quality of the organ sound), and on top I played a newly-acquired glockenspiel and – salvaged from my childhood – a wooden recorder (lecteurs français de ma génération, je sais que vous aussi vous avez tous eu une flute! J). To this day there’s still something in this song that makes me feel really happy, perhaps it was a premonition that I would one day live by the sea :-)))

This album has been reissued on coloured and black vinyl by The Leaf Label this year (available through my Bandcamp)  and will be released on tape for the first time on 14th October  on Beacon Sound (EU customers can order through my Bandcamp, non-EU customers please head over directly to Beacon Sound’s website here).

A PERSONAL KEYBOARD ARCHEOLOGY – PART 3: “A SWIMMING POOL DOWN THE RAILWAY TRACK”, 2003, EVERYONE ALIVE WANTS ANSWERS

October 3, 2017 § Leave a comment

I’ll be posting every day this week to finish this series this weekend, because next week will be full of very very exciting news regarding the new record!

Around 2001, I was given the Acid software by a friend, and I discovered sampling on the computer:  I could finally make my dream of making solo music beyond the confines of my guitar-based practice come true, and obsessively borrowed dozens of CDs of all music genres every week in the mediatheques of Paris, the city where I had moved in 1999 to take a master’s in English. My voracious appetite for all the types of  music to which access had so far been denied to me because of my lack of money led me to this sample-based approach in a very natural way. In 2002 I finished what became my first album, Everyone alive wants answers, but interestingly enough, there is *one* track on the album that does contain music played by myself, and the instrument is… that same Bontempi organ mentioned in Parts 1 and 2!

The original instrument was recorded right after the one I posted a couple of days ago, and even though I initially preferred the very first song, it is the second organ song that ended up on the album, and I’m intrigued by the fact that of all the old recordings I could have used, the Bontempi organ came out the winner: I think it’s because somehow it already seemed ready to blend within the acoustic-meets-electronic-manipulation that I was aiming for with my sampling approach (almost all the samples were of acoustic instruments). As for the “swimming pool down the railway track”, it really did exist, and I saw it on my way to work every day as I went to teach English in a lycée in a Parisian suburb, its slight surrealism in the morning light making the early rising and long transport hours somehow more bearable.

The album has been reissued on coloured and black vinyl by The Leaf Label and on tape by Beacon Sound, head over to Bandcamp if you are curious!

 

 

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