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Wednesday
Nov252009

Le Lendemain - Fires

LE LENDEMAIN - FIRES (Home Normal)

Pushing strongly for being one of the labels of 2009, Ian Hawgood’s Home Normal tops off the year with another outstanding release. Danny Norbury, who also releases fine music under the guise of Library Tapes, has collaborated with Swede David Wenngren for a series of melancholic sketches composed mostly with cello, dulcitone, piano and the ever-present penumbra of field recordings.

Whilst one could argue that we’re now saturated with this sort of drone-tinged ambience in 2009, it’s hard not to be beguiled into a state of reflection with “Fires”, which doesn’t outstay its welcome at just under 31 minutes, being the sort of length you could listen to on a reflective Tuesday afternoon with the rain crashing against the windows outside. Some of the tracks do lapse a little into Michael Nyman territory at times, but the piano of Wenngren in general serves to accentuate Norbury’s playing rather than compete with it. On occasion, such as the opening track “Fiore”, both of them seem to eek out their own path, rather than work together, creating a faint air of introspection, but they then come together beautifully on compositions like “Petrichor” and the elegaic splendour of “Att Andas”. On “Linden” Norbury fades into the background, as the pastoral hum of the field recordings creates a warm, benevolent atmosphere.

The six minute “Lois” is the central song on “Fires”, a sharp sounding combination of deep cello set against some carefully constructed noise. What the two of them lack in forceful dynamics , they muster in the contemplation of space and sound, preferring to let resonance and decay do their work, and it’s typical of how the rest of the album sounds. Wenngren dominates proceedings with the final 3 pieces, in particular with the doleful glow of “Le Fleuve”.

As a dialogue between two musicians not afraid to open up their emotions, this is a wonderful ode to the idea of contemplation in sound, rich in grace. Home Normal are a label that seem to get better with every release, and this one of them.

Toby Frith

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