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Ogives — La Mémoire des Orages
(Bandcamp Sub Rosa SRV544, 2023, 2LP / CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-06-23

La Mémoire des Orages Cover art

They must be putting something in the water in Belgium that turns out excellent groupings of musicians, just saying. Ogives is an octet from Liège, led by composer / multi-instrumentalist Pavel Tchikov and drummer / poet Alexis Van Doosselaere; La Memoire des Orages (The Memory of Storms) is the band’s debut album. Their sound is unusual, and equally difficult to describe in any convenient terms or even by comparison to others who have gone before them. Loud heavy post-rock riffage spars with delicate chamber music, beautiful and elegant choirs duel with jagged electronic blasts and textures in the fabric of space; summed up, their sound is certainly one of many juxtaposed contrasts coexisting in some kind of strange earthly harmony, at once beautiful (but never pretty) and sometimes most menacing, a collision of nightmares and dreams. Six of the eight members sing, in fact only the two drummer / percussionists do not sing, Van Doosselaere (who wrote some of the lyrics) and Tom Malmender. For his player credits, Tchikov handles bass, vocals and modular synthesizer (as well as production), while the remainder of the group features singer Marie Billy, Zoé Pireaux (vocals and flute), Manu Henrion (guitars, trombone, vocals), Martin Chenel (saxophones, vocals), and Charlie Maerevoet (saxophones, keynoards, and vocals). The mixing was led by none other than Steve Albini, whose list of credits stretch from here to the moon and back. Ogives’ music is informed by Byzantine chants, ancient European music, baroque counterpoints, old Roman monodies and much more. The double LP plays for around seventy-five minutes, which just fits on a single CD. Lyrics are mixed between French and English, though the listener will be forgiven for not knowing that by just listening, the choral nature of the massed voices makes that detail difficult to determine at times. The album’s centerpiece is a six part epic titled “Patience” which accounts for nearly half the overall playing time, but the six parts are not sequential, broken up by a number of other tracks in between them. Other standouts include “Black Furrows,” the fourteen minute “L'oubli - Von nun an drängt die Zeit,” and “The Mighty Pumpkin” (and reprise). La Memoire des Orages is a most engaging listening experience, one that should be of interest to those who want challenging and unusual music.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Ogives

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