Elodie – La Porte Ouverte LP
La Porte Ouverte is Elodie’s highly anticipated new vinyl-only album, released on Andrew Chalk own Faraway Press imprint. Andrew Chalk and Timo Van Luijk have been collaborating extensively as Elodie over the past year, often helped by Tom James Scott here tickling the keys of the piano to augment with his own strings and treatments. The album is constructed from slowly revolving patterns of delicate harmonics floating around an omnipresent timbral drone, plenty of bells and gongs, and while the overall beauty and concept reveal a definite dream-like desire to capture an elusive spiritual voice through the resonance of drones. All of the eight tracks hang with the signature melancholy that resonates through so many of their recordings. Very highly recommended as with everything that Andrew and Timo touches. Limited to 350 copies only.
Available in a standard only edition and cut at 45 RPM for higher fidelity.
350 copies pressed. Sleeve is printed in reverse board with poly-lined inner sleeve.
“Few musical artists have explored the notion of quietness as a virtue — and, let’s face it, as a reaction to the fetishization of high volumes in rock music — with as much rigor as Andrew Chalk and Timo van Luijk do in their Elodie duo. Performing live in about 2012 or so, opening for Eyvind Kang and Jessika Kenney, they held the audience in rapt silence, Chalk gently — barely — caressing the strings of his acoustic guitar and van Luijk only occasionally whistling with unbelievable restraint into his flute, was remarkable. Not to mention bold. It’s a potentially risky approach, but the control van Luijk and Chalk have in their interactions (not to mention their musical skill) means they have consistently been able to evince new forms of minimalism.
For La Porte Ouverte, originally issued in 2016 on cassette, the duo is joined by Liberez pianist Tom James Scott, and his keys, added to subtly applied textures from other instruments, lead to a slight change in the overall aesthetic of Elodie. There was always a difference between Elodie live and their studio output, but on this album they shake off the shackles of lowercase altogether, removing the constraints of that genre’s formalism and delving into a delicate, moonlit realm somewhere between barroom jazz and modern minimalism.
On most tracks, Tom Scott’s piano acts like a semi-regular metronome: emerging gradually but with confidence, delineating the atmosphere with patient, slow-building clusters of notes, arranged like outlines. Within — and even without — the resulting canvasses, Timo van Luijk and Andrew Chalk have the space to reflectively dab their own considered shades, reacting both to the piano and each other. “Matin de Marbre” shimmers like light on a marble statue, a thread-like keyboard note drifting anxiously in and out of tremulous piano notes. There are hints of Angelo Badalamenti’s compositions for David Lynch, especially the Straight Story soundtrack, in the aching tone of the instruments; it’s equally easy to imagine a lot of the tracks on La Porte Ouverte forming the backing track for a song sung by Isabella Rosselini in Blue Velvet. “La Marche” is more austere, with piano notes struck almost angrily by Scott only to find no echo in van Luijk and Chalk’s unflinching keyboard drone. Somewhere deep in the mix, van Luijk’s flute seems to echo like a defeated cry, but that could just be my ears finding textures that aren’t there. Or maybe they are, it’s hard to tell. As an entire album, La Porte Ouverte can have that effect, especially on the longer tracks.
On average, the tracks on the first half are most minimal and quiet, borrowing most noticeably from lowercase traditions in the sparseness of the piano notes and barely audible flourishes on flute or guitar. Scott’s playing will instantly appeal to fans of Morton Feldman or Michael Nyman, whilst the keyboard arrangements evoke the ambient works of Fennesz or David Sylvian’s mid-1980s work (sans the vocals, of course). “Le Jardin Onirique” is the side’s longest work, and also the most abstract, fittingly given the title. A dreamlike quality drifts through much of the entire album, the earthiest moment coming with the emergence of Andrew Chalk’s guitar on “Par la Main,” as he sketches out a gentle series of scales to dance hesitantly with Scott’s piano motif, rewarding listeners with the most intimate piece on the album.
In contrast, the second side features synths and keyboards more prominently, although don’t go thinking the results are lush or dense. Elodie make a virtue of stillness and calm, and the lengthier tracks (of eight, only three feature on side B) somewhat paradoxically underline this further. The title track drifts on a curtain of synthetic strings into which piano notes drop like rain into a pond. It’s a profoundly moving and melancholic piece, its apparent simplicity hiding a range of depths. Tom James Scott really shines, delicately deploying his notes only when necessary, and the synth arrangement is positively haunting. I’m not sure what the title, which translates as “The Open Door,” means, beyond maybe a sense of welcome, which this track certainly carries in abundance. The organ-drenched “Lumen” is possibly the loudest Elodie has ever got, the venerable church instrument building a foundation over which piano and vibraphone notes swirl like motes of dust caught in a shaft of light. Again, I find myself reaching for Badalamenti, but in truth that’s a lazy shorthand for music that is both emotionally-resonant and cinematic in scope. Elodie have jazz and minimalism in their bones, and feeling in their hearts, and by broadening their palette so effectively on La Porte Ouverte they have created an album as close to unique as you can get in 2016.” – Joseph Burnett
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