Roxane Métayer, "Éclipse des Ocelles"
There seems to be a hell of a lot of weird and wonderful music coming out of Brussels these days and this debut from violinist/visual artist Roxane M√©tayer is a welcome addition to that teetering heap of outre delights. √âclipse des ocelles falls within one of my favorite niches, as M√©tayer uses field recordings and acoustic instruments to evoke a hallucinatory strain of imaginary folk music that feels both ancient and otherworldly. While I suspect Natural Snow Buildings will always reign within that particular shadow realm, M√©tayer does quite a fine job in staking out her own lovely niche of flickering and timeless rustic ambiance. Moreover, she achieves quite an appealing illusion of organic looseness and spontaneity through a mixture of improvisation and composed themes. Admittedly, I occasionally wish some pieces were a bit more focused and purposeful than they are, but M√©tayer is exceptionally gifted at casting (and sustaining) a sublime and dreamlike spell. And the album's handful of highlights make for quite a mesmerizing deep listening experience.
The chorus of chirping birds that open the album nicely sets the tone for what is to come, as √âclipse des ocelles has the feel of an ancient pagan ritual occurring in some sacred forest clearing. Or perhaps the mood is more akin to the soundtrack for a somewhat haunting and hallucinatory medieval puppet show. In either case, M√©tayer seems like she was born to be the highlight of some Folklore Tapes compilation, as she is impressively talented at conjuring the atmosphere of a darkly psychedelic folk tale. For me, that immersive otherworldliness is the primary appeal of this album and the deeper M√©tayer goes, the better the album gets. In that regard, the organically heaving, multi-layered, and multitextured "Dans un pays de serpents" is the most striking and memorable trip down the rabbit hole. It is not a fluke though, as "Plus brume, que lune" and "Quand l'abeille survient" are similarly absorbing and phantasmagoric. That said, vividly realizing eerily fantastical scenes is not the only realm where M√©tayer excels, as one of the album's other highlights ("Phaleine Somnolente") is a sublime convergence of production/recording skill, the sounds of an inventively misused violin, and some beautifully soulful, intertwining melodies. In fact, I think M√©tayer's recording and productive expertise is what elevates this album into something truly memorable and special, as she seems to have captured every single scrape, whine, click, and shudder of her violin with crystalline clarity. It was probably inevitable that I would like this album, as I would happily snap up anything that could be glibly described as "Richard Skelton and Lisa Gerrard took a bunch of mushrooms and made alternate soundtrack to Midsommar with Enhet F√∂r Fri Musik," but the sharp details and tactile textures here are on a level far beyond most good albums in the free-/freak-/psych-folk milieu.
Samples can be found here.