FRÉDÉRIC L’ÉPÉE – The Empty Room

Yang Music 2019

The Empty Room

Inhabiting space with memories, French composer exorcises sadness from his six strings.

“They reach into your room, just feel their gentle touch: when all hope is gone, sad songs say so much”: these classic lyrics must mean a lot to Frédéric L’Épée whose ninth solo album oozes love and loss in equal measure. Created over the course of nine years, it’s a series of instrumental odes to the dearly departed and the space they left – that’s why funeral toll is heard in a few pieces, although the solemn peal will also evoke hope towards the record’s finale – a walled-in expanse which he fills with magnificent sounds.

For the most part, they’re not mournful. Despite the drama lurking in chthonic ebb and flow of the two-volume “Hymne aux ancêtres” or “Parle-moi encore” – a minimalist, piano-laden lament – L’Épée prefers to focus on inner peace He allows the twang to stage elegy in “Inévitable traversée” and the clang to echo in “Descending The Slow River” in a calming, if simultaneously disturbing – because of dynamic resonance – way. With a help from his colleagues in YANG and SHYLOCK, Frédéric injects sympathy in these numbers, the insistent “Souvenirs de traversée” bristling with cosmic sonics and melding layers of melodies in a single almost-dissonant tapestry

To channel grief through the blues can’t be more natural for a musician, and L’Épée does it elegantly by wrapping a clock-like rhythm of “Delta” in a variety of guitars, an electronica-stricken orchestra of sorts, and molding a vibrant multidimensional soundscape. It’s able to move mountains, let alone shift moods, but the shimmering specks of “Treasured Wounds” are firmly anchored with crystalline low-tone shards that can shatter the listener’s very existence. As acoustic strum of “Badong” progresses into overloaded drone, embroidered with effervescent six-string harmonies and spiced up with exciting percussion, a celebratory atmosphere may seem to unfold – only to zoom in on a ticking and turn into a folk ballad and rock symphony which take the theme of mortality to an Eastern-flavored cathartic crescendo, where riffs reign supreme, and dissolve in silence.

A paean to the absent friends and family, “The Empty Room” isn’t a place for shadows to run from themselves; it’s a sanctum for the living to reminisce in.


September 3, 2019

Category(s): Reviews
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