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Tristesse des Manes ( Prikosnovenie)
~reviewed by Mick Mercer

They look serious people, but approachable, hanging around a big posh room, instruments around them. Sensible clothes, sensible hair. Against the classical sound of piano and cello (with violin), the female voice(s) uses a real melody, giving us classical songs. The violin usually throws in some brisk moves to change the tension the cello drawls and sets the mood, which the piano enhances. It isn’t background music either, because it gets everywhere.

They are usually slow, with delicate vocals, but they stay high in the mix, and strong, for this isn’t willowy ethereal material. Singing in French, apart from “Kergal”, and then you don’t really notice, adds to it all. The French can do a romantic mood better than anyone (not a stereotype, more an independent musical observation), and this will please you immensely? Nothing is desolate or stark, as its ruminative. Sadness is a factor, encouraging reflection, and by not being able to understand the words you invent your own mood so it is slightly mysterious, without with being light or disposable. 

Nor is it heavy or daunting, which would have been such an easier route to go. Only “Un parc, une tonnelle” is dark just as “Un automne restant” is lighter, almost waltzing, in the old Josepheine Baker chansons style of her 60’s musing. It’s like any band, either they have the variety and imagination or they don’t and with the exception of one song which is like a capricious musical joke (“Loire et lethe “) yet not glaringly out of place, it all works. 

This haunting music cleanses the room effortlessly, and is the most beautiful thing I have heard outside of Ataraxia. It reminds me of music that backs Stephen Poliakoff tv films (remember the awesome ‘Shooting The Past’ or ‘Perfect Strangers’ music?) in that it just makes you tingle. This is an album of exceptional beauty, delivered in such a way that it’s an album to truly cherish.

Aux glycines defuntes
La, ici ou alliers
Au sacre des nuits
Le parc enniege
Les chants de peine
Loire et lethe
Les temples eleves
L’ombre tilleul
Aux cordes eternelles
Un automne restant
Un parc, une tonnelle
La source du jour
La tristesse des manes

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