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Murcof - The Versailles Sessions


Commissioned for 2007’s Les Grande Eaux Nocturnes festival at the Chateau Versailles, Fernando Corona took recordings of 17th century Baroque instrumentation and voice such as the harpsichord, violin and flute of works from the likes of composers such as Lully and Couperin, and processed them electronically in the manner to which listeners of his other material will be accustomed to, adding a veneer of pregnant echo and distant ambient atmosphere.

Whilst not a true Murcof album according to Leaf, it’s hard not separate his previous works from this, although what does stand out is that the sound he treats is naturally finished already in a melodic sense, and it’s left to Corona to treat them in his own style.

This is an unusual and at times unsettling piece of music, starting off with the brooding intensity of “This is Versailles”, which veers from almost Japanese style flute sounds to weird thumping noises sketched out against a backdrop of plucked strings and rising ambient malelovence that is Corona’s trademark. “Louis XIV’s Demons” is an eerie mix of scraped and treated Viola, whilst “A Lesson for the Future” contains some fascinating vocal sounds that then descends into a typical Baroque piece for Harpischord that is slowly lowered into a mix of murky noise, emerging with some grace for the album’s centrepiece track, the brooding menace of “Spring in the Artificial Garde”, combining traces of almost uplifting harpsichord alongside other ethereal washes of sounds. In my opinion though, Corona saves the best for last, the peculiar wind instrument and ambient insectoid sounds of “Lully’s Turquerie” give the track a peculiar mix of Baroque and the Aboriginal, as if Antipodean natives had somehow infiltrated the court.

As a series of musical sketches commissioned for a festival, “The Versailles Sessions” as mentioned before, is hard to document as an album, yet it provides a telling insight into an artist whose musical soundscapes are growing in their vision and maturity. Corona’s dalliance with the world of acoustic instrumentation should be applauded, and this is an intriguing experiment that explores new sonic territory.

Toby Frith

Reader Comments (1)

Fine review. I enjoyed this album a lot. In fact I found it more interesting than Murcof's other releases. There's something bolder and more resonant about The Versailles Sessions.

November 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterColin

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