SOPHIE AGNEL / OLIVIER BENOIT – Reps

Césaré

Sophie Agnel: piano; Olivier Benoit: electric guitar

Reps lasts a little over 33 minutes, its eventful density counterbalancing the short duration. Both players capitalize on instrumental features partially attached to the traces of a fully fledged timbre; still, the individual voices are definitely placeable, with some of the typical techniques of “introvert expressiveness” in sight across a pair of extended tracks.

So we’re as always left with the unenviable task of analyzing what’s not really describable. This writer spent abundant time with the album without finding a keyword to begin with, usually an optimism-inducing sign. What I mean is that this work does not wink seductively; instead, it reveals details and undercurrents only when the full extent of its coherence has been grasped.

A good move might be the observation of the dynamic curves. Initially, an obsessive repetition of gestures; think two persons desperately attempting to restart the engine of a car that suddenly stopped. After that, the relative quietude deriving by the awareness of an intrinsic human limit, the artists recurring to intimate shades and perturbed suggestions to elicit a darker kind of resonant omen. This duality remains essential throughout, the percussiveness of the metal parts and the reverberating rumbles coexisting in substantial sympathy.

Sometimes Agnel interrupts the flux with a fixed chord or minimal figuration, leaving the “abstract” matters in Benoit’s hands: acrid distortion, abrasive string treatments and, in general, a non-dogmatic use of the guitar show no reverence towards definitions. However, there’s no structural chaos: the sonic elements are deployed in an order that the ear perceives as correct, the musicians totally integrated in the overall textural grain. An acoustic inventiveness based on not-exactly-usual colors which, quite miraculously, fuse together to convey a sense of organization. The numerous tensions are never followed by actual releases, a major plus in the evaluation of the music’s influence on the listener’s neurological nature.

Is this enough to convince a reader? Hopefully yes. Listen.

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