Genre: Gothic Rock
01 Les Sombres Plis de l'Ame
02 The Monk on the Shore
03 Les Herbes Mortes
04 Les Meandres
05 The Long Shadow
06 I Can't see your Face
07 Les Catacombes
08 Into Flowers
09 Crowns of Golden Corn
10 L'eau des Mauves
11 The Island of the Dead
Additional Notes: Each song on this album was inspired by a different painting from the 19th or 20th century. Below is the list of inspirations:
1. "La Neige" (1873) Charles-Francois DAUBIGNY
2. "The Monk on the Shore" (1809-1810) Caspar David FRIEDRICH
3. "Femmes Portant du foin sur une Civiere" (Vers 1874) Camille PISSARO
4. "Crepuscule sur la Loire" (1999) Richard BOUTIN
5. "The Long Shadow" (around 1805) Johan Heinrich Wilhelm TISCHBEIN
6. "Twilight Fantasy" (1911) Edward Robert HUGHES
7. "Loire, Tristesse des Manes" (1988) Nicolas MECHERIKI
8. "L'angelus" (1859) & "Le Printemps" (1868-1873) Jean-Francois MILLET
9. "Le Rappel des Glaneuses" (1839) Jules BRETON
10. "Ophelie" (1852) John Everett MILLAIS
11. "l'Ile des Morts" (1880) Arnold BOCKLIN
The paintings can be seen here: http://www.prikosnovenie.com/groupes/collectionk.html
Prikosnovenie and Collection d'Arnell Andrea; two groups of artists that I have never heard let alone heard of until I received this album and press release. The complexities behind "Exposition: Eaux Fortes et Meandres" are almost too great to put into logical words. The idea behind the album is to base each one of these beautiful gothic rock songs off of a painting from the 19th or 20th century, all of which have been listed above. The band itself features your typical electric gothic rock band and atmosphere with cello and alto thrown in for good measure. The music represents a typically cold atmosphere as most of the paintings also depict. There is also a very complex amount of programming and keyboard layers laid over top of the music, making the music seem like a unique combination of the likes of Faith & the Muse and Dark Sanctuary.
When I first received this album and viewed the band and the idea behind the music, I thought this would be more of a neoclassical project. However, this is not the case, as Collection d'Arnell Andrea follows a moderately heavy version of gothic rock with very vague neoclassical overtones. The first track Les Sombres Plis de l'Ame fits perfectly along with it's artistic counterpart, focusing on a colder atmosphere and a moderately desolate sound. The haunting vocalisations by singer Chloé St Liphard also drift as an apparition across each painting, dancing gracefully and endlessly through portraits of melancholy and desolation. As she moves her twirling mists into "The Monk on the Shore", the music takes a more uptempo but almost apocalyptic approach in sound. Again, the music matches perfectly with the painting, and somehow the paintings seem to take on their own life and form through this beautiful and desperate music.
One of the only songs that doesn't seem to match up very well with the artpiece is in the next track "Les Herbes Mortes". The drawing features two hooded women carrying straw through a field in daylight. I personally don't see anything haunting or sinister about this image, and it seems more suited for a neofolk act rather than a gothic rock one. The music on the song, however, is probably of the best on the entire album. It just unfortunately does not match up with the image. As Chloe floats dramatically into the next image, a rather recent painting from 1999 entitled "Crépuscule sur la Loire", the music again matches and this time it becomes of a more minimal, however somehow still increasingly epic nature. One can see the sun going down in a fiery rage over the horizon of the image, seemingly setting the sky ablaze as if preparing for some post-dusk vampiric battle under the ever darkening rural skies. This, personally, was probably my favorite track on the entire album.
The next track sees Chloe dancing with a partner, a melancholy figure, one left to desolation with only his own overwhelming shadow to keep him company. This picture, while light in nature, is still somehow incredibly foreboding as the music implies. It is also within this track that one fully realizes the nature behind the male chants that have been heard variously throughout the album until this point. They add a truely epic atmosphere to the cold and dark world that is painted by the music otherwise, but also show the remnants of a mind torn apart, almost in madness with the world around him. This figure is tormented by his own past, and has gone mad with distraught in his current life. It is with this realization though that the music begins to fade, leaving in a perfect atmosphere for the listener to wander in wonder.
"I can't see your face" is way too uptempo and evil sounding to really relate to the portrait provided. It is almost like the band can't stop their dancey beats when it comes time to follow a more laid back nature. This track easily could have worked wonders as a neoclassical instrumental. I don't understand how the painting could be taken in the light that Collection d'Arnell Andrea has taken it, but that is the beautiful thing about art. It is always left up to interpretation, and anyone who tries to put a definitive meaning on a piece of art, even as the creator, is a fool in my eyes. The next track, "Les Catacombs" features no painting on the site given so I cannot give an accurate description of the music's tie to the painting. I can however offer you a rather evil feeling, one of darkness and hopelessness. After such an odd and somewhat downtempo track, we find ourselves reverting into an atmospheric, moving approach with the painting "Le Printemps". This song is almost one of travel with the painting featuring a moment of light in what is generally overwhelming darkness. The painting envisions a storm with a part, and where this part's light happens is upon a path. A path out of the dark and into the light? Perhaps, as these paintings generally take on a larger meaning than is what first noticeable to the naked eye. However, one must realize that parts in a storm can only last so long, and are usually swallowed up again quickly by the darkness. Thus, the song remains sinister with only a remotely noticeable approach to hope. There is also a unique ethnic beauty to be found here.
Again though, after such a masterpiece in relation to it's art-driven sisterwork, we find ourselves staring into another image meant more for a neofolk or softer song. I do not understand Collection D'arnell Andrea's intimate attraction to fields of wheat and corn, though I can say that somehow, this track is fitting with the image. I can't quite place the connection, but it resembles somehow the likes of Rasputina whom also hit up on these field-driven themes quite often. There is also a recurring theme in this track and the previous: suffering. Perhaps they speak of famine? I cannot say for sure, but I do know that there is nothing happy happening here. Perhaps majestic as the music features overlying atmospheres that fit the likes of David Galas' only solo work, but nothing glad. I do know, however, that the artist's work was dramatically influenced by the French countryside, so I am sure this has a great deal to do with the band's attraction to this painting.
As Chloe drifts into the next painting she happens upon a floating woman, of death or floating we know not. This is also a painting by one of my favorite artists of the 19th century, Sir John Everett Millais. Sir John Everett Millais was a founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood which was a group of English painted and poets and was also birthed by William Hunt and Dante Rossetti. You can find more information on this brotherhood by following the link. Sir Millais was a highly controversial artist, particularly because of his realistic portrayal of a "working class holy family" in his painting "Christ in the House of his Parents" (1850). The music, again, matches perfectly up with the realistic and beautiful complexity of the natural world in Ophelia.
The last track "The Island of the Dead" is one of the more beautiful tracks on Exposition: Eaux Fortes et Meandres despite the foreboding title. The painting and music present a vague but powerful image of a lone man rowing his way into the island to meet his own demise. I wish that lyrics were included with this because they aren't to be found on the website, though I believe I am hearing one of the most beautiful chants that I have heard in gothic-based music prior: "Looking for a Perfect Tide, Eternal Rest Before I Die." The strings at the end of this track are just absolutely stunning as well. As complex and beautiful as this album is, it will assuredly make my top 10 list at the end of this year. However, with three tracks that don't really match their paintings (in my journalistic opinion), I can't say this is a perfect album. Looked upon from a purely musical perspective though, this is assuredly one of the best gothic rock albums to see the spotlight in some years. This is another band and label to support, so buy this album.