Staggering avant-folk hymns by France’s Karen Jebane aka Golem Mecanique, eliding haunting vocals with billowing hurdy-gurdy-like tones from a rare French instrument. She takes all the time she needs to cast two spellbinding durational works full of visceral, slow-burning and dissonant energy. Hand-picked for release on Stephen O’Malley’s Ideologic Organ, you can trust this one’s as vital and heavy as your life, as he explains below.
““My first encounter with Karen Jebane (aka Golem Mecanique) was in the context of Echoés above the village of Le Saix in Haut-Alpes, in 2016. This tremendous location runs along a deep river canyon with a long cliff on one side and a small mountainside slope on the other. Importantly, and uniquely, some mad acoustician geniuses have built massive concrete amplified horns into the hillside to project sound against the cliff, activating the landscape's natural resonance and delay patterns. The Echoés organisers exploit this system once per year, in a type of private weekend. People arrive for a few evenings of music and enjoy the summer and loosen their minds a bit. I was to be performing later in the night (under the stars, one of my most memorable and moving experiences with music ever), but Karen began her performance directly at sunset, the color saturating the sky and shadows growing deep purple and reds. Instantly and for the next hour I felt like I had descending into the neolithic/mythological age. And into the pre-renaissance mindset of time where linearity was absent, cyclic experience unnessesary... just when it was/is. Karen's deep and evocative chanting voice reflected and called forth in multitude amongst the landscape. Bone-chilling, or, perhaps, penetrating down through the bone. A thick and immaterial drone wove itself into the air. Voices began emerging from the cliff's face, the stones itself were singing, seemingly liberated from their geological time space. I understood more about why archetypal memory forms of seers, divinatory, witches and sorceresses exist in our cultural long storylines, our shared sociopsychological neurological rationalisation constructs. Those necessary systems of attempting to interpret and communicate the world. It was an incredible moment within the blur between the night and the day. Although Karen's main instrument are her voice, and her mind, she also performs on organ, and also together with the Mediterranean folk music impressionada Marion Cousin on this deeply moving album. Karen also utilises a very special French instrument known as the BAB, a kind of mechanised vielle (hurdy-gurdy)... one of the more incredible inventions of the La Nòvia group's legendary instrument builder Léo Maurel. Basically, the instrument sounds like an arcane goth/spirit interpreting Phill Niblock's string pieces, in monochrome on the very edge of the invention of color grain.
- Stephen O'Malley, Paris January 2020”