After an extremely active launch in 2015, the Moderna label has been quiet in recent months. Half a year has passed since its last release, so it’s a relief to hear the return of both the label and Tambour. Chapitre I was the beginning, and Chapitre II continues the project, name-checking Yann Tiersen’s Amelie score and in so doing making artist Simon P. Castonguay a musical cousin of Oskar Schuster. Tambour is a bit more melancholic than Schuster, but Tiersen’s playfulness is apparent in the interplay of glockenspiel and piano.
The timbres grow deeper on “Sleepers” as the string quartet is moved front and center. It’s the only seven-minute composition here, as opposed to the three (of four) on the previous EP. The additional time allows melancholy to spread like melting ice cream on a hot summer pavement. As the strings surrender a mournful melody, the glockenspiel adds a bittersweet flavor, withdrawing only to make room for the piano, which offers more consoling words. When the glockenspiel returns, it does so in restrained fashion, one note at a time. The final 1:37 picks up the pace, shifting the mood to something more celebratory, a memory molded into joy.
The EP’s waltzes are appealing, but slight, dancing from the mind like sugary confections. The final impression is made by the french horns of Arcade Fire’s Pietro Amato. “Farewell Museum” is a far cry from “Wake Up”, but continues the theme of Tambour’s second chapter: active dreams alternating with passive sleep. We have yet to hear what Castonguay might do with a full album under this moniker (he does have one as projet.hertz), but one more EP should do it, and this dynamic contrast is a pleasant indicator of things to come. (Richard Allen)