After 2o years of sound work and field recording, Gaël Segalen finally released her first LP. 2016’s L’Ange Le Sage was melodic and abrasive in equal quantities. Memoir of My Manor continues in this vein, adding a new, nearly club-like sensibility. The Parisian artist calls her compositions “danceable field recording”, but the first album only hinted at the dance floor, while the second flaunts this facet before drawing back to the shadows. This is appropriate for an album inspired by monsters, although the creature on the cover doesn’t seem all that scary.
The thirteen-minute “Remember” pulses and broods, while failing to give an indication of the artist’s rough edges. Instead, it operates as a dangerous mirror to Giorgio Moroder’s “The Chase”, inviting listeners to run rather than dance. When additional synths enter, the track takes on a near-industrial sheen. It’s a bold opening gambit, daring listeners to stick around for the left turns. These arrive with furious abandon in the center of the album, beginning with the shifting sands of “Creature’s Decisions”, which stops and starts, lurches and lands, spewing static and vitriol, noises wet and dry. The creature retreats and returns, attacks and digests. Segalen tilts the floor again and again, preventing listeners from finding their footing. She’s not being mean, simply curious; what will they do if they can’t find their bearings?
There’s a bit of horror mixed into the batter ~ after all, the f:rmat label’s first release was Hammer of Hathor’s Corpse Pose ~ but whenever those dance beats enter, the fear dissipates. Nearly four minutes into “Hall of the First Steps”, the percussion leads a path to the DJ booth. One can think of the opening 3:49 as a long intro or a slow build. The track could be remixed to make it more club-friendly, but we suspect Segalen would resist such reinterpretations. This is her vision, after all, reflecting her belief that “all the noises she has collected … can coexist”. There’s nothing here so dissonant as to dissuade, nor so consonant as to cross over. The project is more of an experiment in sound, most apparent on the 16:26 closer, which swerves through traffic, crickets and cash registers before tumbling down a rabbit hole of horns and beats. As the track advances, it transforms from tribal to apocalyptic. The creatures have captured the main stage; the end of dance music as we know it is near. (Richard Allen)