Foudre! ~ Earth

earthSupergroup alert!  We’ve reviewed all of the artists in the Foudre! collective, comprised of Frédéric D. Oberland (Oiseaux-Tempête, The Rustle Of The Stars, FareWell Poetry), Romain Barbot and Grégory Buffier (Saåad), Paul Régimbeau (Mondkopf), and Christine Ott.  Separately, their work encompasses multiple genres, which makes their work as a collective nuanced and rich.  Their latest project began as the live score to an experimental film by Ho Tzu Nyen, and is now offered for public consumption.  In light of its genesis, perhaps the best way to approach the recording is backwards, as the last 48 seconds make the greatest impression.  It’s only then that the home listener realizes the album has been one long take, as the sizable audience erupts into applause.  Yet at no time throughout has their presence been felt: not a cough, not a shuffle, not a whisper, not a phone.  This astonishment underlines the transfixing nature of the recording, which takes the listener on a journey from soft wind to electronic apocalypse.

Yes, there’s that word again ~ apocalypse.  In light of recent global events, the (potential) end of the world seems to be on many minds.  Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice.  In the hands of Foudre!, the end of the world seems a slow burn, an inevitable slide toward catastrophe rather than a sudden conflagration.  In the film, survivors drift in and out of consciousness, in and out of the frame, in and out of their individual identifications, as if nothing is stable.  The music follows, similarly in flux.  In the early going, the tone is ambient, free-flowing, dissociative.  A church bell tolls, distorted, as if the spire contains a warped cassette rather than brass.  Ott’s ondes martenot adds a tone of the otherworldly, similar to that of a theremin.  But in “Sleep”, a pulse begins to emerge as yearning tones appear in guitar and synth.  Are these yearnings for answers, for consolation, for death?  Is there any hope in a post-apocalyptic world?  Is there enough energy to start again?

Unlike other similarly-themed recordings, Earth is not a work of overt horror.  Occasionally one hears the scrape of pottery (perhaps in reference to Job) or a ghostlike squelch.  More often, the album is one of rumination and warning.  We are not quite here yet.  And as “Sleep” subsides, “Goliath” awakens, stretching its arms and stumbling about, eventually transforming into a Carpenter-esque excursion.  The drones that follow only add to the sense that something is amiss.  In the film, seemingly healthy individuals slowly awaken in a mass of rubble; the camera draws back until the whole picture can be discerned.  The score operates in the same way, inching its way toward revelation and resolution.  The audience contributes the final punctuation, but one suspects that the film continues to drift, zooming out until even Earth is forgotten.  (Richard Allen)

Release date:  17 February

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