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CD Feature/ I am a Vowel: "Et op la Bang"

img  Tobias

Did you ever want to be a word? Take a swim in the waters between two lines of print? Explore the contours of a letter? Apparently, Nelly Larguier does. In fact, she stakes an even more incredible claim: “I am a Vowel”, Larguier says of herself and on her first album, she appears to be travelling into the rich sonorities of a single, short phrase.

We need to use the suppositive here, for “Et Op La Bang” comes adorned with nothing but a short press release and a reference to Larguier’s webspace, which, unfortunately, offers no additional insights into the techniques, methods or processes used to arrive at the album, nor with any conceptual notes, philosophical essays or definitions of aesthetical principles. It must be assumed, then, that the answer is embedded in the music, merely waiting to be discovered and appreciated by the attentive listener.

It is certainly easy to agree to this claim on several occasions. At least on half of the eight concise compositions collected here, Larguier clearly utters parts of the overarching combination of words mentioned in her record’s title, using them as source material for her music. “Bang” is either stretched to fluttering threads of furry tonalities or doubled up into a declining melody, “Et” extended to a long, sustained open-vocaled breath and connected with an “Op” in order to form stuttering, hickipping and bouncing beats.

On the face of it, it seems like an academic exercise. Speech has always been a favourite medium for the Avantgarde, because of the added possibilities of counterpointing linguistic concent with the vagueries of logical meaning, of establishing a contrast between the most human form of expression and technological manipulations and the volubility of the voice, its myriads of finely nuanced shadings. And yet, Larguier’s approach has nothing in common with these trains of thought.

Instead, her only personal comment on the album reveals a quasi-naive, positively whimsical and charmingly adventurous attitude: “On a magic island, a Lion, Birds, Perfume, Cats Hats Gowns, A Boat and Mory speak a Random language”, she writes and this short scene, both an epithet to “Et Op La Bang” as well as a possible underlying image or concept, hints towards a solution: Words, in their pure ontological state, are beautiful in their own right and the way we pronounce them is just as much an essential part of communication as the actual stringing together of terms to establish meaning.

There is also a second layer to “Et Op La Bang”, which may even be more extraordinary. Just as much as four of the tracks here freely disclosely their source, the others do not – “Une etoile” begins with a poem, before concentrating on the rippling delays of a ping pong ball and opener “Mille Spirale” focusses on pluckering and rattling sequences on top of a nebulous drone. The thing is that the mind, after having discerned a possible principle, begins searching for its application even in places, where it seems improbable – and the result is a much deeper degree of understanding. You will find yourself rewinding particular passages, in search for a clue of Larguier’s speach, of phragments of phrases or at least parts of words.

More often than not, you will find yourself able to detect them – even though it is highly likely, that they are not there. The message is clear: Language is everywhere and music may “speak” to us like a human being would. Maybe that is why this album has turned out so comforting and consoling, even though its soundworlds are decidedly alien: Just as though someone were reading a book to you, you sink deeper and deeper into the voice of the narrator, gradually descending into the waters between two lines of print, a zone of comfort where a listener can be a word and a composer can constitute a vowel.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: I am a Vowel
Homepage: Fang Bomb Records

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