'The first edition of the Musique Fragile series presents three self-produced records by three local/regional artists we've been following for a while. Taken together, to our ears (and hearts) these albums trace overlapping circles of Hermetic music in the literal definition of the term: works that were conceived/executed in different forms of isolation (physical, artistic) and also each in its own way invoking a sense of esoteric mysticism (Hermeticism in its more 'spiritual' connotation).
Khôra's "Silent Your Body Is Endless" and Nick Kuepfer's "Avestruz" are both entirely instrumental records, each performed and recorded by a single person, and each sourced primarily from guitar, though in radically different ways; Les Momies De Palerme's "Brûlez Ce Coeur", while using vocals extensively alongside other instruments, deploys voices largely in 'instrumental' fashion, with minimal lyrics and long reverb-drenched intonations.
Khôra is the work of Toronto resident Matthew Ramolo. He created Silent Your Body Is Endless in complete isolation and self-released it in a tiny private-press CD edition in 2009, then re-sequenced, re-mixed and re-mastered the record in collaboration with Constellation for its inclusion in the Musique Fragile series. Ramolo's Khôra project is based chiefly on acoustic/electric guitar and field recordings, with extensive signal processing and digital interventions pulling from these sources to create an immersive soundworld of drones, chimes, rings and other pointillistic sonics. His longform compositions generally contain lovely stretches of relatively unprocessed and fully recognisable guitar which evolve or devolve into more electronic/DSP soundscapes (and sometimes back again). The results are highly organic and meditative while retaining plenty of icy shards, bubbling distortions and passages of controlled monumentalism, making this anything but an ambient listen.
Matthew's initial CD copies of Silent Your Body Is Endless trickled through a few hands here in Montreal last year and immediately struck us as a perfect first piece in the Musique Fragile puzzle. The album went to the top of CKUT's music charts within a week of being aired, and garnered some deserved praise from the smatterings of Canadian music press that managed to stumble across it: "A complete revelation...an album that will haunt your dreams long after you've left this shattered orb" (Hour Magazine); "delves into spaces familiar to fans of Brian Eno, Iannis Xenakis or Pan Sonic, creating dense soundscapes subtle enough that you almost forget it's on, until a bristle of noise jolts you back into reality" (!earshot)
Nick Kuepfer has been a fixture of Montreal's avant/folk/improv underground since moving to the city a few years back. Alongside running the Daygristle screenprinting studio and hosting wonderfully claustrophobic shows at his Rap Machines space, Kuepfer has done service in a pile of music groups past and present, including L'Embuscade, Echoes Still Singing Limbs (ESSL), Aids Wolf and One Candle Power; he also recently joined Hrsta. Kuepfer initially circulated some CD-Rs of this record around town, screenprinted with the ESSL name, but the Echoes project soon evolved into a larger band and a very different beast; Nick agreed that Avestruz should carry a different moniker, ultimately and bashfully accepting to put his actual name on it!
Avestruz is a charming and humble sketchbook of sorts, a volume of mostly short pieces that usually start with acoustic guitar riffs that loop and layer, sometimes with the addition of hand-percussion (pots, pans and kettles), the occasional bowed string, and various field recordings. Self-recorded on a variety of lo-fi sources (mostly 4-track cassette and mini-disc) and primarily "in the field" while Nick was traveling through Argentina in 2007-2008, the album has a beguiling vagabond spirit and palpably conveys the sense of a solitary wandering through unfamiliar land, documenting its musical impressions. There is a sense of real immediacy and site specificity (cultural and geographic) on this collection of recordings, even as most of the pieces have been worked up with multi-tracked and/or looped patterns and polyrhythms. We also hear a paean to mystical nature, channeled by the calm but wide-eyed euphoria and attention that so often accompanies rough unsanitised travel. Avestruz is like a sonic slideshow of Kuepfer's journey, with the musical snapshots taken at various 'magic hours' where the light makes everything hum and glow from within.
Les Momies De Palerme are also based in Montreal and consist of Marie Davidson and Xarah Dion, who both relocated here from Quebec City several years ago. We first heard from Xarah as a mail-order customer and then received the occasional long hand-written letter from her soon after she arrived in Montreal, introducing herself more fully and ruminating on her sense of displacement and re-orientation. She remained unknown to us except in name, until a couple of years later when we were struck by an otherworldly performance by Les Momies De Palerme and realised Xarah was one half of the duo. Marie and Xarah both have gone on to make many musical connections in the city, including membership in Sam Shalabi's Land Of Kush orchestra. They are also among the founders of La Brique, an artist-run center that hosts regular loft shows of all sorts.
Brûlez ce coeur follows the group's debut self-released L'amour sincère CD-R (2007), from which the lead track "Solis" has been re-recorded. Of the three Musique Fragile albums, this is the only one that was recorded in a studio and the only one to feature guest players; the band convened at The Pines with David Bryant (Bliss, Set Fire To Flames) last year to take advantage of his excellent space acoustics and his fine collection of spring and plate reverbs. Les Momies create an uncategorisable sound built up from a core of keyboards, processed violin and voices: slow-paced without being ponderous; synthetic without being retro; methodically restrained and strangely devotional without being easily tagged as ethereal or gothic. Brûlez ce coeur is often like an ersatz sacred music: canticles on acid (we imagine Marie and Xarah back in the Quebec City of their youth, tripping in Catholic church, as the genesis of Les Momies) full of strange quirks and avant sounds while remaining soothing, meditative and incantatory'. - Constellation.
These are ultra-deluxe, ultra-limited sets released in a package of 3 x CD or 3 x LP, both complete with 3 screen printed posters and 3 sets of art cards.
FORMAT INFORMATION3xLtd LP Info: ***LAST COPY EVER***