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Hélène Breschand – Les Incarnés

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Hélène Breschand - Les IncarnésHélène Breschand plays her harp in as wide a variety of ways as is possible to imagine (and some which might be less obvious), at times sounding like she is letting rip in an electric guitar, prepared piano, zither and effects pedals all simultaneously. What it doesn’t really sound like is the limpid waftings of angels serenading the hosts of heaven, unless said host happens to be in a very avant-garde state of mind at the time. As side A draws to a melancholic close, it plinks, bends and twangs with softly swerving resonances and reverberations, plus the occasional whack of the harp’s frame for good measure.

Side B opens with notes held in soft tension, Breschand’s breath becoming more audible among slow accretions of metal strings swept and slung in a slow progress while she brings forth a long drawn-out song composed more of emotional intonations than of individually discernible words. The whole is delivered initially with echoes of the stately grace of a koto-accompanied Noh, though the piece eventually dissolves into reflective sweeps of panning delay and the arrival of harsher effects and discordances.. The way in which Breschand makes the harp resonate like a cello or violin is exceptional, and as it buzzes and shimmers into tightly-controlled flurries of feedback and reverb, the booming finale of Les Incarnés is delivered in gathering clusters of remarkable intensity.

This is meditative music, but not the kind full of new age vapidity; rather it is the sound of a musician exploring and stretching the boundaries of her instrument with a deep concentration. Her (presumably) furrowed brow and the evident rapt attention paid to the sounds she is making is audibly transmitted directly to the listener; and is a joy to be swept up by and absorbed into.

-Richard Fontenoy-

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