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murcof - The Versailles Sessions
This wonderful album features six experimental compositions by the increasingly impressive Fernando Corona, devised specially for Les Grandes Eaux Nocturnes, an annual festival of sound, light and water held at the Palace Of Versailles. The opulence and decadence of the location plays its part in Murcof's music, which embraces a real sense of scale and drama: Corona takes recordings of 17th century baroque instruments as his starting point (harpsichord, viola de gamba, violin and flute) and combines them with vocal performances by a mezzo soprano, field recordings and of course his own electronic interventions. The final product is incredibly bold, and marks Murcof's furthest departure yet from his micro-techno beginnings. There's a real electroacoustic menace to the opening quarter-hour of 'Welcome To Versailles' and 'Louis XIV's Demons', both of which seem to take great joy in dismantling the sonorities of their sound sources. Things settle down somewhat during 'A Lesson For The Future, Farewell To The Old Ways', which seems to embrace the unfettered musicality of the assemblage of voices and instruments. The harpsichord outro is bolstered fairly unintrusively by electronic shadowing, making for a great comedown after the grand, orchestral swells that came before it. 'Death Of A Forest' returns to a noisier, rawer handling of sound, far more concerned with contorting timbres than with harmony, although soon enough 'Spring In The Artificial Gardens' sees a re-emergence of melody and a stately instrumental presence, and in the album's final moments there's even a return to a bit of 4/4 minimalism, with a Raster Noton-style microbeat weaving its way into the mix of insect recordings and renaissance-era woodwind. A very strange mix, yet somehow it all works out superbly.