JUSTIN LÉPANY – Agnes (In Redemption)

Creative Sources

Every once in a while, Ernesto Rodrigues’ imprint gifts us with something relatively distant from its typical coordinates. Agnes (In Redemption) is a half composed, half improvised album for solo guitar; its largest chunk is closely linked to the modified photograph of an elegantly dressed woman walking alone in a subway tunnel, presented in performance as the music flows.

The constitution of the three tracks is attributable to the systematic use of “phrase pills” in infinite repeat mode. Nothing new of course, and the deus ex machina is honest in avoiding declarations of any kind in that regard. If one approaches the record in search of undeclared implications and profound revelations, perhaps bathed in celestial tunefulness, a bit of frustration might arise. But the French guitarist is not wandering cluelessly in that area. Rather, his layered cycles establish a sphere of resonant mechanical patterns that leave no room to daydreaming surpluses. Few notes, obsessive pulses: by concentrating hard enough you’ll be nailed to the seat in no time with eyes closed, absorbing the refractions ricocheted by those small particles. The percussive soul of the guitar strings becomes evident in spite of the overall hypnosis.

But Lépany is also good in altering the acoustic kinetics of each scenario. Loops can recede to legitimize the power of humming low frequencies; potent chords emerge unexpectedly to surprise the listener; mesmerizing reiterations accelerate all of a sudden, spinning off towards remote corners. The tentative melodic fragments in “And Raven Stole The Sun” are not exactly what my doctor would order, yet still make sense in the general context. The finale is like a post scriptum: a “normal” fingerpicked figuration, not foreseeable after such stringent minimalist methods. But it works fine as a closure, putting the ultimate seal on a release that requires a lucid immersion as opposed to the usual tendency to float related to similarly conceived pieces. I’m telling you, we’re not talking Aidan Baker or Paul Bradley here: in a way, Lépany represents the proverbial realist in an ambit where sirenic stupefaction is more or less the norm.

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