Exposé print issues (1993-2011)
Frédéric Gerchambeau / Bruno Karnel — N+8
(Bandcamp no#, 2022, CD / DL)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-10-28
Several years ago, Gerchambeau and Karnel made their first full-length collaboration, titled Amra, which we reviewed in these pages. That album featured seven tracks of varying lengths, with Gerchambeau accompanying Karnel’s vocals and strings (guitar, mandolin, saz, charango, etc.) mostly on a Eurorack modular synthesizer and analog sequencer. Their current collaboration, N+8 (so called because the compositions are mostly about the night, night, Nacht, noche, nuit, etc.), is an EP that contains only three tracks, yet it clocks in at almost thirty minutes, perhaps a bit more melodic and accessible than their previous collaboration. As before, Karnel wrote all the lyrics and sang them, played six and seven string guitars, Peruvian charango, Turkish saz, keyboards, and field recordings, while Gerchambeau sticks to the Eurorack and analog sequencers; the music was written by both. This time out, guest player Polina Faustova plays cello on the opening track "Selinofilimeni," a sprawling ten-plus minute piece that pulsates and rings full of strange sounds embelished with beautiful strings and exotic Middle Eastern tones, capped by Karnel’s French vocals. The electric guitars stretch out with a Frippian glissando touch, ringing like distant bells in the foggy night — the piece is nothing if not mystical and unusual. “Nachtseelen” opens a new door, tending to stay in a more purely electronic mode for the first few minutes of its nine-minute duration, though as it proceeds we find unusual swirling electronic sounds, searing guitar and occasional Mellotron-like choral effects. Switching to English lyrics for the closer “Nat og Dag,” Karnel delivers a rollicking vocal over the bouncy rhythm, bewildering electronic chaos, and found sounds that underlie the piece. Once again, like its predecessor Amra, most of the music on N+8 is a strange and unusual accompaniment for the lyrics at hand, one really won’t find anything else quite like this.
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