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Muriel Louveau / Charles B. Kim

artist release (2009)
Review by Tyran Grillo

On Skaņa, French singer and composer Muriel Louveau collaborates with American composer and producer Charles B. Kim to yield a world of classical and cinematic associations. Texts drawn from the Latin mass, as well as the poetry of William Blake and John of the Cross, speak to an imaginary congregation that transcends time and space.

In outer terms, the music is a veiled mix of vocal overdubs, synthesizers, and percussion. In inner terms, it speaks in a language far grander than those mere elements would imply. In the opening "Kyrie Eleison," for instance, the solo voice is the seed for an ecosystem beyond imagining. Wrapped in its own reverberations, it sings as if to unfold an inner child of reckoning, running across fields of memory alive with analog warmth. Yet what starts with its feet on the ground soon takes wing far above it, catching glimpses of itself in the mirrors of lakes and oceans along the way. It's the first in a handful of tracks culled from the liturgical tradition that also includes the more chorally inflected "Agnus Dei."

Alongside these spiritual shades, the album is primarily concerned with primary colors of the natural world. Such journeys as "O Earth Return" and "Ichos," all the way to the final "Parting," balance past destruction with future rebuilding, leaving us standing on the fulcrum of spinning either into the garment of our reality. In these anthems to end all anthems, a panoramic sense of space and time prevails, nostalgic to the very core.

The variety of Louveau's colors is staggering, spanning the gamut from rib-shaking depth to stratospheric airiness, while Kim’s environments are as fantastic as they are three-dimensional. So much so that when the spoken word of "When Night is Falling" bleeds into the birdlike vocals of "Baltik," the listener can almost wield it as a talisman of the duo’s far-reaching energies. All the more astonishing considering they never met in person, but meshed their creative signatures via computer and phone. As in "De la Luna" and "De la Mer," both pinnacles of their art, they fill our cups with purity of expression and fullness of meaning, bidding us to drink only when we are ready. - Tyran Grillo

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