Olivier Arson, the soul of the project and head of Envelope Collective, introduces us to the songs by his new incarnation, more focused on group work and with a sound somewhere between soothing ambient drone and various styles of slow post-rock.
Three years gives one time enough for a lot of changes. It’s time enough for plenty of things to turn your head, for hopes to wear out from lack of use, for feelings that seem new, for people to leave their mark on you, for itches to push you again and force you, almost without realising it, to change your position. Three years ago, Frenchman Olivier Arson, already settled in Madrid after a sort of initiatory experience on damp Icelandic soil, introduced himself to society with “Sorger Était Allé Dehors, Comme Après Un Triomphe” (Envelope Collective, 2009), a collection of impressionistic soundscapes that were as ethereal as they were beautiful, eight electroacoustic ambient postcards based on deep, throbbing bass, samples with a classic serial, folktronic aftertaste, liquid crystal guitars, fluid magmas of keyboards, and field recordings processed over and over again. That album, a solo project released under the alias The Folding And The Point, also kicked off the Envelope Collective label, a platform headed by Arson himself.
Over time, his impulses changed, requiring new turns, new turning points. New alliances also arose over time, a constellation of musicians with similar affinities, where Arson saw the flourishing of a new range of possibilities that invited him to alter his sound approach for a second album. As he himself says in the description of how his new project arose, “the instrumental focus gave way to lyrics, and individual, solitary work lost its appeal as I opened up to collaboration with others. The goal in TERRITOIRE was to make more physical, organic, narrative music, which was at the same time more personal and more collective”.
The Frenchman’s new venture is debuting now, with the collaboration of friends such as Miren Iza (Tulsa), Abel Hernández (formerly Migala, Emak Bakia, El Hijo, here doing co-production work), Maite Arroitajauregi (Mursego), Miguel Marín (Arbol), Sara Galán (Cello + Laptop), Ángel Mancebo (Ann Deveria), Javier Monserrat (El Hijo, Litoral), Greg Gobel (Tripulante y Crucero, Marcus Doo), Santiago Latorre, Edu Comelles and the folks from McEnroe, a band that Arson is also involved with. From these encounters, which took place intermittently over the course of the last two years in different cities in Spain, comes “Mandorle”. Eight songs with a mysterious air that shift between translucent drone, a sort of singer-songwriter pop tending towards slowness, concerned with articulating silences, and a variable post-rock that at times has the flavour of a digital micro-release – which Taylor Deupree, founder of the 12k label, in charge of mastering, has managed to give the perfect touch to – while others lean towards the elastic tension of jazz or fits of Krautrock.
Olivier Arson himself introduces us to the world of “Mandorle”, one of the pleasant surprises that Spain has given us during this second half of 2012. “Mandorle” will be available at the end of November through Envelope Collective.
The album opens with 20 seconds of silence, followed by this introduction to some of the instruments that later appear repeatedly throughout the work: guitar, cello, organ, and clarinet.
White is often the colour of darkness: it is the colour of solitude, of mirrors, of the truths that finally come to your eyes. Maite’s cello [Arroitajauregi, Mursego] turns my guts, and that’s where the shouts at the end come from.
3. Ton Père
I wrote the line of pizzicatos in a severe state of drunkenness, and Sara [Galán, Cello+Laptop] had to work very hard to reproduce it. As far as lyrics go, it acts as the ending, picking up images that are already present in the other songs.
4. Vesica Piscis
We recorded the drum with Edu [Gúzman, McEnroe] as if it were a boxing match. I was in front of him hitting the air with my hands and he responded to my movements with his cymbals and beatboxes. The lyrics are about meat creeping and dirt in your throat.
5. Resplandor II
I wanted to leave this as low as possible, as if it were caressing your ear, a chapel where you could go in search of serenity. At one magic moment while recording, Gonzalo [Eizaga, McEnroe] came up with this classically-inspired, Bach-like guitar.
6. Le Désert Du Namib
From the beginning, this song was intended for Miren’s voice [Iza, Tulsa] and it was all very sensory until Angel’s bass [Mancebo, Ann Deveria], the rhythm, Edu’s idea and Abel’s work [Hernández, co-producer] put soul into the desert.
The lyrics are a poem by José Ángel Valente. Sara’s cello is amplified distortions, and I think that Gonzalo’s strings ended up with bloodstains. The cut-off ending is a nod to the best album in history, “Laughing Stock” [Talk Talk; Verve Records, 1991].
8. Resplandor IV
This was an experiment in extreme frequencies. Babe [Pablo Pulido, additional mixing] had to stop because he felt like throwing up. Then it was softened by Abel’s back-up singing and that Bach-like guitar coming back, which brought both the album and three fucking years of obsessive work to an end.