FRÉDÉRIC L’ÉPÉE – The Empty Room

Yang Music 2019

FRÉDÉRIC L’ÉPÉE –
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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