Following from the stunning Ulises Conti album, flau on October 5 unleash the experimentalism of ensemble 0, formerly known as 0 and who have appeared on flau twice before with the “Soñando” and “Umarete Wa Mita Keredo” albums of 2013 and 2015 respectively. They also contributed “Soñando 8” to the “Circles” compilation of a few months ago.
“ensemble 0 is a band who plays the compositions by its members and music by other living composers. The members can change according to each project. The founding members live in France (Joël Merah), Spain (Stéphane Garin) and Belgium (Sylvain Chauveau), with a rotating set of musicians from Western Europe. In 2016 a section of ensemble 0 has been created in Brussels featuring Florent Garnier, Jean-François Brohée, and Chauveau. This trio has spent one and a half-year composing new acoustic pieces, playing them live, recording and mixing them. This is the music for this album on flau: 8 tracks with percussion, harmonium, ebows and guitar, with the addition of Thomas Jean Henri (aka Cabane) and Antoine Pasqualini (aka Monolithe Noir) as guests.“
“Florent plays glockenspiel & chimes, Sylvain plays hapi drum & glockenspiel, JF plays ebow and it lasts 1:51″ with track titles such as these you are able to form your own opinion of the music without having the possibly subliminal thought of the tracks title influencing you. The album feels like it was recorded either as a cohesive piece of work broken down into chapters, or recorded in one sitting which allows the tracks to share elements. The opener has paired glockenspiel which alongside the chimes and hapi drum brings forth an innocence to any music that features it. The music is hypnotically melodic with the hapi drum having a ghostly melody. There is a static sound that permeates the track which I can’t put my finger on, but it transfers through to…”Sylvain plays guitar, Florent plays metallophone, JF plays ebow and it lasts 2:48”. This track features the guitar in prominent position with the tone similar to that of the track mentioned before “Soñando 8”. The metallophone continues the melodic touch of the opener with the ebow adding a gritty edge to the track as its distorted tones vibrate. A nice pairing of three distinctly different sounding instruments, with the guitar and metallophone sharing rhythms.
“Thomas plays vibraphone, JF plays ebows, Sylvain plays glockenspiel, Florent plays harmonium and it lasts 2:36” the harmonium adds a nice droning quality to the music and also a counterpoint to the more melodic touches of the rhythmic glockenspiel and rubs of the shimmering vibraphone. The ebow adds, much like the previous track a dirty edge. The music is constructed in loops and waves which become hypnotic in their movements. A noticeable thing about the music is the space between instruments which allows their characteristics to be shown and also allows the listener to concentrate on each one. While they inhabit the same track, they feel like independent entities.
“JF plays ebows, Sylvain plays guitar, Florent plays percussion, Thomas plays guitar and it lasts 6:59” sounding the most experimental and string based tracks of the album, metallic wire like ebow and paired guitars create a piece that draws you in with its hypnotic loop like qualities. The ebow gives it a distorted noisy edge, while the percussion is minimal and understated and both these instruments are there to augment the guitars with their picking style to be the focal point of the track. The rhythms created are strong and consistent in pace, with the tone being light and draws the listener in with its almost laid back feel.
“Florent plays glockenspiel, JF plays ebows and guitar, Sylvain plays glockenspiel and it lasts 2:48” glockenspiel has the type of tones that sound vibrant and bouncy with a natural reverb. When played in tandem they work nicely together in creating a melodic, yet childlike sound. Unlike the previous track the focus on this is for the most part is the glockenspiel, while the guitar leads the track out to the end and the ebow is rather distant in the overall mix. The percussive nature of the glockenspiel gives a rhythmic context that the guitars demonstrated in the previous track.
“Sylvain plays glockenspiel, Florent plays glockenspiel and chimes, JF plays ebows, Antoine plays modular synth and it lasts 8:32” having a harsher tone than the other tracks, this particular piece feels more rhythmical based and unlike the others, possibly due to the synth, it is not crystal clear what all the sounds are until the halfway mark where clarity and separation creeps in. In keeping with the sound sources so far, the majority of the piece is acoustic based with the synth having a muffled/ distorted tone that compliments rather than overshadows the glockenspiel.
“JF plays chime, Sylvain plays radio, Florent plays glockenspiel and it lasts 0:45” a blink and you miss it track, combines the grittiness of the of signal radio with the almost glitch like and IDM-ish chimes and glockenspiel to create a mysterious and slightly eerie interlude which flows nicely into “Florent plays harmonium, JF plays ebows, Antoine plays modular synth, Sylvain plays melodica, Maxime plays field recordings and it lasts 12:27” harmonium and melodica are a wise choice to pair up as they both have similar sound characteristics, just different tones. Sonically they have a sound that I associate with haze. It could be the wheezy nature stop/start nature that they posses. The modular synth is again, not as obvious as other instruments and sort of sandwiches its way into sections. The field recordings are hard to in down on their source, but becoming more noticeable in the second half of the track and reveal themselves to be water based. While the harmonium before had a bit more melancholy in its sound, with this particular track its more of a noisier drone. The ebow itself is much like the instrument throughout the album, rather subtle in nature and placement.
This is the type of album that will probably be of interest to those into more minimal and experimental music than your traditional listener. That is not to say that it is not accessible to a wider population. While it has the elements such as the glockenspiel and chimes that provide more melodic touches, the music feels intelligent, thought out and highly composed from skilled musicians who are locked in together as players and composers. Credit goes to the (unlisted in press notes) recorder/mixer/masterer in capturing the music in crystal clear glory. The album, released on October 5 is available on Coloured vinyl/CD/Digital.