Cremaster & Angharad Davies – Pluie FineFebruary 20, 2013
Less fine rain, more of a seething stormy cauldron. Pluie Fine is a release three years in the making, the result of recordings swapped backward and forward between Cremaster, who are Barcelona based omni-musicians Alfredo Costa Monteiro and Ferran Fages and London based violinist Angharad Davies. Judging by the limited liner notes, it seems that the shaping of sounds into a composition took place in Barcelona, one assumes without Davies, who provided new sounds throughout the process, presumably in response to the gradually assembled work in progress. The end result is three separate works that all share a similar, if not identical soundworld. The overall feel is of neatly, tightly intertwined wails and cries, some of which originate from the violin (but don’t necessarily still sound much like a violin) and some that come from whatever feedback/electronics/electromagnetic/otherwise sound sources the Cremaster guys put to use. There is something strangely sub-aquatic here- the cry of whales maybe, the deep, slow resonance of sounds travelling underwater, a heaviness to the sound. From the outset of the first piece Embrun we are presented with high pitched, yearning calls of one kind or another that overlap each other, a new one rising over the one before as they crash over each other like waves. The electronic sounds range between fizzing, buzzing abstractions, bassy growls and a feedbackish screeching not that dissimilar to Davies’ Welsh whale wails (sorry!). Ten minutes into Embrun things rise above the earlier simmer to a dense, perhaps aggressive mass of sounds from all directions, some dirtily grating, others distantly moaning, with the foreground always piercingly, occasionally viciously present. Its tough going for the listener at times, while each sound feels delicate, the way they mass together presents a claustrophobic approach at times that sets out to pummel into your skull and succeeds in doing so.
If the palette sounds used here is not necessarily anything new, what really makes this album a fine one is the way it is put together. There is a feeling of real consistency and purpose here. Often music put together in this manner sounds like the accidental collision of different sounds sent in from afar, but here the sounds have been carefully chosen, and then expertly woven together. The album took three years to make, but it sounds like over that period a lot of time was spent on the construction of the three tracks, knitting small parts into a cohesive whole. While the sounds here are wild and of the kind we would usually only expect to hear in an improvised, spontaneous work, Pluie Fine sounds tightly composed- concise and describing a clear narrative with all elements sounding like they have a deliberate part to play. Dark and often oppressively atmospheric, this is fine album indeed then, the work of strong musicians with an exceptional knowledge of their raw materials and the vision and skill to put them to use.