MURCOF + PHILIPPE PETIT: 1st chapter
(LP + CD + Digital / Rev. Lab. - Aagoo)
Release date: September 2013
Hailing from Tijuana, on the Mexico/US border, and now a Barcelona resident, Fernando Corona rose to attention as part of Mexican collective Nortec, mostly for his work as Terrestre, but it is with another project, Murcof, that he has made an extremely strong impact. Merging micro-beats with samples of contemporary classical music, his work, often crystallised into sweeping haunting pieces, bridges the gap between Arvo Pärt or Henryk Górecki and part of the electronic scene of today. He is credited with being one of the main influences of the likes of Erik Skodvin and of many of the artists who have appeared on Miasmah in recent years.
This self-styled musical activist began his career as a journalist and DJ in his native Marseille, and went on to form Pandemonium Rdz., a label with which he explored the outer reaches of experimental rock, before turning his interest to electronic music by setting up BiP_HOp Records at the beginning of the noughties. Since 2009, his focus has shifted once again, this time on his own music, a refined blend which can incorporate elements of experimental rock rock or classical music and can take the form of complex electronic, electro-acousticism, experimentation or turntablism. Although Petit occasionally works alone, it is in the collaborative space where he truly thrives, casting his sonic world against that of the likes of Eugene S. Robinson, Lydia Lunch, Pietro Riparbelli, Bella Emerson, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Asva & loads more...
The meeting of such unconventional musicians was always going to result in a pretty incredible piece of work, but confronting such strong identities and getting them to work together was not a given. For the past three years, Philippe Petit and Fernando Corona have regularly played live together, undoubtedly refining their collaboration with each new performance and finding the right balance between their respective sound worlds. The result is this album which equally finds its roots in Murcof’s modern classical influences and Petit’s coarse post modernist soundscaping.
The album may barely reach the forty minute mark, but in the space of three tracks, Corona and Petit create a magnificent soundtrack which teems with haunting choral chants, lush string work and unsettling atmospherics. This album is rooted in ancient myths and legends, borrowing from Greek mythology for "The Call Of Circé", daughter of Helios and powerful enchantress, and winged divine horse "Pegasus", or from Nordic tales of giant squid-like sea monsters on "The Summoning Of The Kraken". This very much characterises the epic proportions of this album, echoing in parts the amplitude of Murcof’s "Cosmos" (Leaf, 2007), and in others Petit’s equally ambitious "Off To Titan" (Karlrecords 2010), but they temper this with much more delicate moments, for which they assemble incredibly detailed and refined atmospheric passages.
Clocking at just over twenty minutes, the opening piece "The Call Of Circé" is articulated around a series of sequences which range from stern, doom-like guitar stabs and harsh percussive noises to eerie choral laments and theatrical vocal flourishes. The haunting melodies and ambiences of the first half are slowly broken apart by the recurring thuds of metallic percussions. When these recede, the mood has become darker, grittier, more oppressive, and remains as such for much of the remainder.
"Pegasus" recalls some of the more baroque treatment Murcof experimented with on his commissioned work for Les Grandes Eaux Nocturnes de Versailles, especially through his use of the viola de gamba as a primary sound source, but this sound source becomes corrupted as the track progresses, perhaps subject to Philippe Petit’s radical decay processing, until only a few distorted strands of grating bowed strings remain.
With the last track, Corona and Petit opt for an overall softer, warmer atmosphere, but there is a lingering feeling of impending danger lurking below the surface of the whole piece. This is marked by the use of sparse percussions, magnified vinyl crackles and processed guitars and textures which, assembled in various combinations, weight heavily on the otherwise almost pastoral nature of the composition.
Philippe Petit knows how to find collaborators with whom he can go beyond his own sonic universe and make them venture into unfamiliar territories, and he is an expert in making these collaborations gel perfectly. And this is one hell of a collaboration: two artists, each with this visionary approach, working together to create a truly magnificent piece.
WRITTEN BY Bruno Lasnier / January 2013 (www.themilkfactory.co.uk/st/)