Roxane Métayer, "Paroles Cavernicoles"

Sunday, 16 May 2021 08:01 Anthony D'Amico Reviews - Sound Bytes
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I was certainly not expecting a follow up to March's Éclipse des Ocelles to arrive this quickly, yet here we are with Paroles Cavernicoles ("cave lyrics"), which is a very different animal than its predecessor.  While this latest release promises still more "dazzling drone-folk hymns," it also promises "ghostly ambient passages," which is definitely the bit where the two albums significantly diverge.  While both releases are quite good, it seems fair to say that Éclipse des Ocelles was Métayer's "songs" album and Paroles Cavernicoles is her "fall down a rabbit hole of shapeshifting rustic psychedelia" album.  That is admittedly one of my favorite genres, so I am delighted to join Métayer in her journey through the looking glass, but this album almost feels like the work of a completely different artist altogether (like the cool violinist who made Éclipse des Ocelles has a more effortlessly outré twin who considers herself a non-musician, but will occasionally pick up an instrument to add some weird sounds to her hallucinatory vocal collages).

Primordial Void

The album is divided into two longform pieces, "Partie I: Troglophonie" and "Partie II: Grottes Graciles."  The first piece initially sounds like a very good Finnish psych-folk album from Fonal, as a tender and lovely vocal melody unfolds over a cool rhythmic choral backdrop.  After a couple minutes, however, Métayer dials up the intensity significantly with an interlude of moaning, tortured violin before the bottom drops out entirely and I suddenly find myself lost in a darkly lysergic enchanted forest.  Quite a disorienting cavalcade of surprises then ensues, as "Troglophonie" dizzyingly passes through phases that alternately resemble an attempt to summon Pan with an eerie flute melody, a distant thunderstorm played through a chain of effects pedals, a seductive android transmitting a warning from the future, a large wind chime made from old milk bottles, a chorus of ghostly owls, and an avant-garde string ensemble performing while the yawning mouth of hell slowly opens nearby.  In a broad sense, "Grottes Graciles" is a continuation of that same trippy free-form free fall right down to its similarly lovely opening (a loop of hazy, swooning vocals gives way to passage of warm drones and a lovely, bittersweet violin melody).  In fact, it almost feels like a phantom folk ensemble is teasingly and erratically materializing and dematerializing, but they ultimately fade away to leave me in a haunted cathedral just in time for choir practice.  Unfortunately, there was just an avalanche at the experimental music festival further up the mountain, so everything is soon engulfed in a cacophony of jumbled weirdness.  Naturally, it all ends with something resembling a brief yet spirited infernal hootenanny (wipes sweat from brow).  Needless to say, Paroles Cavernicoles is quite a vividly realized and otherworldly experience, leaving me with the feeling that a supernatural puppet show just swept through my medieval village and nothing and no one can ever be the same again.

Samples can be found here.

Last Updated on Monday, 17 May 2021 13:53