Emmanuelle Parrenin – Pérélandra LP
It was some line up, even for the most open-minded: Emmanuelle Parrenin and her musicians, in 1981, opening for the Clash in Paris, at the Zénith! Unsurprisingly, the crowd roared the name of the English band as soon as the French musicians appeared on stage. Didier Malherbe responded with a saxophone improvisation with all the others joining in behind. If we believe the musician improvising, rather than following the cult playlist of Maison Rose, was what saved them.
Created from previously unpublished recordings from 1978, 1981 and 1982, Pérélandra is a wonderful array of the experiments so unique to Emmanuelle Parrenin. Rather than being improvised, like the legendary show at the Zénith, these experimental tracks have a more composed instrumental form and were conceived for choreographers: mainly Pérélandra, staged with dancers from Carolyn Carlson‘s troupe, but also Nomade, some of the sonic environment of which can be discovered here in (superb) bits and pieces found on cassettes.
In total, just under a dozen tracks are presented, including contributions on bandoneon from the Argentinian Juan José Mosalini, electric piano from the ex-Double Six Jacques Denjean, or elsewhere great electroacoustic work from the wonderful and ever-faithful Bruno Menny. All of this steeped in a sonic mix typical of the most way-out acid-folk freak-outs of the 1970s. Didier Malherbe (who just before was still playing in Gong with Daevid Allen) is on three tracks, his heady graceful agility instantly identifiable, adding to a magical and spiritual universe created with spinet dulcimer, flute, hurdy-gurdy and other-worldly vocals (amongst other ingredients).
Though very difficult to label, Pérélandra could evoke a meeting between Trees Community, Heron and Robin Williamson with Ellen Fullman, Meredith Monk and Ligeti. The whole thing is steeped in an atmosphere as intense as the ecstatic hymns of Hildegard von Bingen.
Emmanuelle Parrenin continues to explore similar territory in her concerts, always surprising us with, Etienne Jaumet, Pierre Bastien (in what is a most promising collaboration) or (occasionally) Jandek.