subota, 17. studenoga 2012.

Mains de Givre - Esther Marie

Violina za šivanje oblaka. Eric Quach i Émilie Livernois-Desroches u zraku. Neoklasičarski drone.
     Streaming ovdje



Insomnie à l'ail EP + Drifting​/​Falling EP

Streaming ovdje
Mains de Givre at Casa Del Popolo, November 28th 2009 (photo by Etienne Blythe)

MAINS DE GIVRE is a violin-centered soundscaping project involving self-taught experimentalist Eric Quach and classically trained musician Émilie Livernois-Desroches, both of whom call Montreal home. Quach is widely known for the experimental ambient work he's produced under his thisquietarmy alias and also is the founder of the instrumental-shoegazer band Destroyalldreamers. Livernois-Desroches has played violin since she was seven years old and been teaching since 2003. She has been a part of various chamber music and symphonic orchestras, and performs with a wide variety of bands in styles ranging from pop to medieval to metal. While her previous best-known project was the melodic folk-black metal band Blackguard (formerly known as Profugus Mortis), Mains de Givre is her most experimental project to date.
Quach and Livernois-Desroches first crossed paths in 2003 while playing with their respective bands Destroyalldreamers and Sugarshack as part of the emerging post-rock scene in Montreal. Following each other's musical achievements over the years, their mutual respect for each other grew until they found themselves six years later embarking on a studio collaboration initially intended to be part of a thisquietarmy release. As their personal and musical chemistry grew, their newfound closeness turned the collaboration into an official long-term project they christened Mains de Givre (frost hands) after a nickname that had been given to Émilie (émilie-aux-mains-de-givre) by her bandmates.
Mains de Givre's debut album, Esther Marie, originates from material recorded at the duo's first jam session in the spring of 2009. The recording opens with the very first notes the two played together, notes that evoke an eerie sadness that permeates the album and characterizes the mood of their collaboration. With the violin as the lead instrument, Quach's guitar playing is restrained yet also tense, as he generates dark, slowly evolving drone atmospheres alongside subtle, looped-based patterns that swirl within the lower end of the sound spectrum.

The Silent Ballet (Joseph Sannicandro), June 3, 2010:
If this Montreal-based duo might sound a bit familiar to regular readers of the site, it is no doubt due to the characteristic contributions of Eric Quach. Quach's other projects have received a fare amount of positive coverage around here at The Silent Ballet, notably for his shoegazing post-rock outfit destroyalldreamers and the free-form guitar drones of thisquietarmy. However, unlike Quach's other collaborations, like last year's excellent A Picture of a Picture with Aidan Baker, Mains de Givre is an entity separate from Quach's other works (as evidenced by the spaces between words and capitalized letters in the band's name, for instance). Quach originally intended to bring in violinist Émilie Livernois-Desroches for a brief collaboration, but one listen to the result will convince any listener that the need for a wholly distinct project is justified. The result, Esther Marie, is a beautiful, haunting journey through swirling textures and moods, painting the now familiar ambient soundscapes with dreary titles; but the result deserves special attention, in no small part due to Livernois-Desroches's poignant playing.

Despite its claim to being experimental, Esther Marie is in many ways a conventional record. The melodies are certainly not predictable—though they are lovely—but the music stays well within the confines of traditional diatonic tonal music, mostly playing with minor scales. Quach's style of play on this record is in keeping with his established methods, but his guitar drones are less abrasive and dissonant than on Transmissions or Aftermath. Perhaps the tones are closer to his style on Unconquered, though decidedly more ambient and expansive. In fact, they rarely sound like they were created with a guitar at all. I would wager that his collaboration with Baker may have colored his style a bit on this project. In any case, Quach's contributions, which largely drive the narrative—if there is one—forward, are quite distinct from his past work, while still operating within a shared idiom, something that should be praised.

That said, it is really Livernois-Desroches's violin that makes Esther Marie stand out, which should come as no surprise as it is her very involvement that makes this not merely another TQA release. The name, in fact, which means “frost hands,” comes from a nickname given to Émilie, but it is really much more significant than these superficial facts. I can't rightly judge her skill as a violinist based on this release, nor am I any sort of authority on the instrument, but nothing she plays in this project seems to be overly technical or even really very challenging. It is not, then, complexity that grants her playing so much power, but rather her incredibly soulful playing. She manages to make slow, simple melodic lines deeply moving, building on her own melodies with repetition and subtle variations, moving in and out of the clouds of noise hovering around her. Judging by the diversity of her past musical output (ranging from folk to black metal), she is a versatile musician, and her relative inexperience in working in the ambient music scene grants her a fresh ear.

Admittedly the four tracks that comprise Esther Marie are each quite long and meandering, eschewing classical or pop structure for ambient soundscaping and mood setting. Opener “Un chœur d'âmes en détresse” (“A Chorus of Souls in Distress”) begins with a slow, pulsing vibrato of Quach's guitar on the note A, which gradually evolves as the violin sings a mournful tune over it. The track builds very slowly, and at over thirteen minutes long, this may try some listener's patience, particularly as the piece attains only the subtlest of climaxes. Then again, impatient listeners will know beforehand whether they are interested by such music. The music flows organically into “Le cercle des moeurs” (“The Circle of Morality,” a title which unfortunately reminds me of a segment from the Animaniacs cartoon, and somewhat spoils the mood), the shortest piece on the record at just under eight minutes. More ambient and with more white noise gurgling in the background, the subtler dronescape allows the violin to bear its soul more openly. A warning: the ending ends a bit abruptly. The third track, “Cauchemar noir et rouge” (“Black and Red Nightmare”), is far more guitar-oriented, while the violin sings in the background, perhaps treated by effects. It is at moments like these that the relationship between the two musical elements is most compelling. What is interesting about this music is less the individual parts than the relationship between them. Émilie's violin more or less takes the foreground the majority of the time, while swirling background drone gives her mournful melodies a backdrop to dance against and occasionally get lost in. Fortunately, this occasional obstruction of identity suits the aesthetic well. The album closes with the fourteen-minute-long “Larmes sanglantes” (“Bloody Tears”), which is essentially more of the same. Luckily the relationship between the two seems to work, and I for one am happy to listen to what basically amounts to a forty-five-minute-long piece of music, particularly music that is so easy to get lost in.

One of the things about Montreal that outsiders might forget is that because the city is bilingual, the Francophone bands often get neglected outside of their own (somewhat limited) scene. Instrumental bands bypass this by foregoing lyrics; however, the city clearly has still had a significant role in shaping these two musicians styles, and that influence shapes the aesthetic and sound of Mains de Givre. As this is only a document of its early attempts at playing together, I will look forward to future releases from the group. I hope that too much planning or direction won't dispel the magic that lurks throughout Esther Marie.
The Milk Factory (Bruno Lasnier), June 2, 2010:
The project of Montreal-based violinist Emilie Livernois-Desroches and experimental guitarist Eric Quach, Mains De Givre is the first signing of the label set up by Canadian magazine Textura. Both already respected musicians in their own right, Quach for his ambient work as thisquietarmy and with instrumental rock band Destroyalldreamers amongst others, classically trained violinist Livernois-Desroches for projects spanning a wide range of genres, from metal to folk, the pair met over seven years ago while playing in two different bands, but only began working together a year ago. The result, Esther Marie, is a stunning collection of deeply atmospheric and dark experimental compositions.
Built from early jam sessions, and assembled into four striking pieces, each with its individual tone, Esther Marie progresses especially slowly, as guitar and violin layers, processed into exquisite textures, become entangled and appear weighed down by their own gravity. There is a natural flow running through the whole album, especially as there is no clear demarcation between the first two tracks, as the vast clouds of distortions generated by Quach freely stretch from "Un Chœur D'Ames En Detresse" into "Le Cercle Des Mœurs," and while the last two tracks are more distinct, they are carved from similarly dense soundscapes, as to permanently enforce the quietly abrasive and sombre nature of the record.
Indeed, nothing is quite as gentle or peaceful as the first impression could lead to think. The pair's chosen name, Mains De Givre, which translates as frost hands, signals a somewhat glacial approach, reinforced by the often gothic track titles – "Un Chœur D'Ames En Detresse" (A Choir of Distressed Souls), "Le Cercle Des Mœurs" (The Circle Of Morals), "Cauchemar Noir Et Rouge" (Red and Black Nightmare) or "Larmes Sanglantes" (Bloody Tears). Equally, the intensity and intricacy of Quach's soundscapes are totally compelling, his heavily processed layers of distortions, manipulated further to ebb and flow over the course of a piece, proving particularly gritty and abrasive throughout. This is tempered slightly by the haunting sound of the violin, but these ethereal brushes also contribute to giving this record its unreservedly sombre quality. "Un Chœur D'Ames En Detresse" opens with a few toll-like scattered guitar notes upon which the violin rapidly comes to cast a timid melody. As the track progresses, the backdrop fills up with increasingly harsher stabs of guitar until the sound becomes hazier, and continues to do so through the three remaining pieces, gaining particular density in the second half of "Cauchemar Noir Et Rouge," and again toward the end of "Larmes Sanglantes," as the violin appears to struggle to extricate itself from the sonic mass.
Mains De Givre work from a relatively sparse set of sounds, but the extremely refined and sophisticated layering that characterises the four tracks here gives Esther Marie an incredible weight and contributes greatly to cast its deeply atmospheric mood. With this, Emilie Livernois-Desroches and Eric Quach have created a truly magnificent record, which should be missed under no pretext. 5/5

Cyclic Defrost (Joshua Meggitt), April 13, 2010:
Esther Marie is the debut by Montreal's Mains de Givre (“frost hands”), a duo comprising Eric Quach on guitar and electronics and violinist Émilie Livernois-Desroches. Quach's background is in shoegaze and ambient productions, while Livernois-Desroches's is in classical; their respective sounds and approaches combine beautifully to produce gloomy neo-classical drones strongly reminiscent, in mood, of fellow Montreal-ers Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
Quach builds up the background, creating dense walls of tonal feedback over which Livernois-Desroches improvises, like an updated take on the violin sonata. She favours long, slow arcs aching with sadness, their strident lines well-suited to Quach's whining grey hiss. The four long pieces take similar approaches, slowly unfolding patterns marked by adjustments in feedback timbre and varied instrumental figures. ‘Un Choeur d'Armes en Destresse' opens with a circling guitar throb, cracking apart as the piece progresses, the violin dancing mournfully over its remains. In ‘Les Cercle des Moeurs' Quach sculpts the feedback into an airy, buoyant twinkle, shimmering like stars beside lower, cello-like string patterns. The bleak squall of ‘Cauchmar Noir et Rouge' evokes both Angelo Badalamenti and My Bloody Valentine, while closer ‘Larmes Sanglantes' works a choppy loop into distorted noise, leaving the final, distraught notes to the lone violin.
Fluid Radio (Daniel Crossley), April 5, 2010:
The upcoming album Esther Marie manages to assemble and capture everything that I look for in experimental/abstract recordings, from the haunting violin structures that Émilie Livernois-Desroches so effortlessly orchestrates through to the droned-out feedback of Eric Quach's electric guitar.
The excursion of sound that you are invited to travel and investigate has a rather dark and eerie feel to it, mainly due to Quach's effects of processing harsh grainy synthesis patterns and distorted riff chords that are both compelling and also at times deeply atmospheric in the darkest sense of the word.
The classically trained stringed arrangements that flow from Émilie's violin are the perfect partner, however, as graceful patterns fuse together flawlessly creating a deep sense of hope and light cutting through the impending gloom. This is what makes the whole Esther Marie experience so intoxicating, and provides the listener with a great depth of resonating experiences not like anything I have heard or witnessed for some time.
Looking set for a release this coming May, Esther Marie is unquestionably going to be a successful release and will bring Mains de Givre the accolades and recognition they so richly deserve. 9/10

Interview with Mains de Givre 

article image
The press release mentions you followed each other's careers for six years before starting to work together. Regarding the different paths you were pursuing, what was it that interested you about your respective work?
Eric: I’ve always been impressed by Émilie’s versatility as she’s very open-minded when it comes to music. For my part, I’m self-taught, I play intuitively by ear and instincts. I’m always opened to playing with people, especially those that I admire and it’s always a good challenge to play with more experienced classically-trained players than myself. I always learn a lot from the experience and it allows me to push my creative and technical boundaries further.
Émilie: I met Eric when I was playing with the post-rock band Sugarshack. I always loved ambient, noise and experimental music. I followed Eric’s projects for years because I really like what he does. I like his ideas and his sense of emotions. For me, Eric is not just a guitar player: he is an emotion's player with “something called a guitar and many many effect pedals”. When we decide to meet and play together, I had no expectations but I knew that the collaboration would produce something freaky, emotional and unique. 

Your collaboration was originally intended for a thisquietarmy release. Does that mean, Eric, that you were and are still looking for a broader perspective for the project than a pure Guitar-and-effects-pedal approach?

Eric: At times, the material that I would come up with is clearly trying to break away from the ambient mould, and I can’t help but start to think about incorporating different arrangements and instrumentations. I actually have a lot of material that are left aside because they sound incomplete as they would require a lot more time and effort to finish them on my own, or I’d have to bring in a band or some musicians to complete them as they are meant to be heard - perhaps they could be potential material for a new Destroyalldreamers album? There are already some attempts at adding more than guitar/effects to thisquietarmy in past and future releases, such as analog synthesizers, drum programming and even vocals on a couple of tracks. Because the Mains de Givre sessions went so well, we decided to make it a long-term project rather than just a simple collaboration for thisquietarmy. 

Did you use some kind of descriptive angle for what you wanted to achieve with Mains de Grivre?
Eric: No, we just decided to jam together and see what would happen. Then we’ve jammed several times afterwards and we still didn’t really talk about directions. The project is still very young and I think it’s good to let the music do the talking in the beginning and not over-analyze right away - that’s how the good accidents usually happen.

Were there conflicts resulting from your different musical backgrounds?
Eric: The album is actually made up from recordings of the very first time we played together, and the first track opens with the first notes we ever played together. I guess we can say we had instant chemistry, so we’ll have to wait a bit more to see where this all leads. No conflicts so far!

Compared to collaborations with a fellow-Guitarist like Aidan Baker, how different did this one turn out for you? 
Eric: Not so much more different actually. Most collaborations I’ve been involved in turned out to be pretty smooth experiences. Like with Aidan or other artists I collaborated with, such as Yellow6 and Scott Cortez of lovesliescrushing, I learned a lot by playing with Émilie. Each collaboration has its own special identity and I’m looking forward to more.

Émilie, In which way did working with Eric present even more of a challenge than your previous projects in the realms of Metal and Folk?
Émilie: I love music in general. I love meeting new people with different tastes than mine and learn from them. I love to discover new bands and new things. Playing with Eric is simple and I enjoy playing with him. It is a different way to compose as well. Metal or folk music are more structured, so I like to break the rules sometime and play with my soul.
Eric: It’s probably very liberating for her in ways that it can’t possibly be with other types of music. But I’m also quite surprised of her ability to follow my soundscapes because there are so many layers and effects that alter any clear notes.

What's the balance between spontaneous jam sessions and post-editing on the album? 
Eric: It’s actually about 90-10 in favor of jam sessions. Initially we wanted to combine the best of all our recordings together on the same album, but in the end, we felt it made more sense to focus on the first one and release it as a document of our first jam session. That way, we could officially track the evolution of our project and see where it takes us. We also felt strongly about  capturing the spontaneity of the moment and create some kind of unspoken dialogue between our instruments. Surprisingly, most of the material was already really good straight out of the recording, so we didn’t feel like we needed to add anything else. No overdubs, just a lot of attentive post-production playback, precise editing and mixing: Hours and hours of playback, taking notes, balance out both instruments, duplicating tracks and equalizing them, adding some reverb, editing or looping some parts for better structures, separating the movements according to their moods, etc.

I was under the impression that you were creating a coherent sound throughout the album, rather than trying to try out many different timbres. Was this partly to draw the focus on the process of musical development? 

Eric: Yes, you can put it that way. Because the material was from the same session, it’s like we tried different variations and different styles of the same mood, and captured all of them in succession. Our next releases will probably explore different timbres however, it may be a good way to document our evolution.

In the live situation, are people sometimes surprised what a powerful and intense instrument the Violin can be?  
Émilie: Yes! this is my goal: to show that violin can do everything. It's not just a classical instrument! Violin IS intense, weird, emotional, fun, surprising. I love that instrument. 

I noticed that the Guitar sound on „Esther Marie“ is remarkably less traceable to the original instrument than on, say, your upcoming album as thisquietarmy, „Aftermath“. How come?
Eric: I think it’s because in the case of Mains de Givre, the violin leads, which makes the interactive dynamics and my guitar playing style different. You always have to be aware of each other and listen carefully, so maybe there’s a bit more restraint on my part. As a result I focused more on creating an ambient background by blending several guitar-based ambient loops cascading into each together rather than playing pronounced guitar notes and chords.

How does the Guitar-setup on „Esther Marie“ compare to your work with thisquietarmy?
Eric: I have almost the same setup, but the routing is a little bit different. With thisquietarmy, I use 3 different loop samplers, and some patterns and sequences are precisely rehearsed for live shows --- I mostly know where I’m heading since it’s like I’m playing against myself and I already know in advance where I want the journey to go.

Can you see the insight you've gained from Mains de Givre making an impact on future thisquietarmy material?
Eric: I really don’t want to repeat the things I’m doing in Mains de Givre with thisquietarmy, although I can definitely see the potential for violin and classical instruments to be added to thisquietarmy’s sound. There will certainly be some violin in future recordings, but I will have to make sure that both projects sound stylistically different. However, it’s also fairly easy to do that since Mains de Givre is for now 100% improvised whereas thisquietarmy’s compositions and arrangements are worked out a lot more in the studio.

From „Esther Marie“, there are many different roads to explore for Mains de Givre. Are you already contemplating your next move?
Eric: We already have a couple of other sessions recorded, and they already sound different than „Esther Marie“: brighter-sounding maybe, more driven and more dynamic. We’ll probably work on these sessions as our next possible releases, but we’ll also keep recording new things as well. We’re also looking into doing some film soundtracks as Émilie is also an actress, her contacts might help us to find some work in that area. - by Tobias Fischer

Nema komentara:

Objavi komentar