Newly remastered by Rashad Becker for this vinyl edition, “Echo” finds Félicia Atkinson synching her feelings into a watercolour suite of solo keys, voice and field recordings, unfurling 40 minutes of new breathtaking music.
Félicia was undertaking an artistic residency in La Becque when the plague took hold in Europe at the start of 2020. Stationed with her husband and young child in the small artistic community near Geneva, she wrote this “imaginary garden” of music dedicated to anyone in pain or isolation. The result is a ponderous mix of slow but searching keys, windswept sax, room recordings and sensitively detached but intimate electronic touches that she intended to mirror the solace she came to find and provide a place for reflection for anyone in need.
Working from a wooden chalet surrounded by gardens, and particularly one inspired by Derek Jarman's in Dungeness (created in the years after he learned he had AIDS), Félicia acts as a transducer for quiet energies and the worries of a world where, as she puts it; “basic things... suddenly seemed so crucial and vast; health, disease, plants, nature, solitude, family, people, fear, calm....”.
Across six pieces spanning almost 40 minutes, Félicia describes a slow but fleeting passage of time between pruned pieces of sound poetry, uncanny concrete abstractions and broader parts of ambient jazz that recall the vulnerability and fragility of Terre Thaemlitz's solo piano expressions with her own sort of tactility and blurry ambiguity, especially the 13 minute “Lillies”. Around and behind each note you can hear the creak of Félicia's chair, her breath on the microphone, birds outside—radiating warmth and a wondrous intangibility that's impossible to express in words, imbuing the listener with a sense of liminality—of existing between worlds.
Experimental musician, sound and visual artist Félicia Atkinson (born 1981) lives on the wild coast of Normandy (France). She has played music since the early 2000s. She has released many records and a novel on Shelter Press
, the label and publisher she co-runs with Bartolomé Sanson.
For Félicia Atkinson, human voices inhabit an ecology alongside and within many other things that don't speak, in the conventional sense: landscapes, images, books, memories, ideas. The French electro-acoustic composer and visual artist makes music that animates these other possible voices in conversation with her own, collaging field recording, MIDI instrumentation, and snippets of essayistic language in both French and English. Her own voice, always shifting to make space, might whisper from the corner or assume another character's tone. Atkinson uses composing as a way to process imaginative and creative life, frequently engaging with the work of visual artists, filmmakers, and novelists. Her layered compositions tell stories that alternately stretch and fold time and place, stories in which she is the narrator but not the protagonist.
Félicia Atkinson has collaborated with musicians including Jefre Cantu-Ledesma
, Chris Watson, Christina Vantzou, and Stephen O'Malley
, and with ensembles including Eklekto (Geneva) and Neon (Oslo). She has performed at venues and festivals including INA GRM/Maison de la Radio and the Philharmonie (Paris), Issue Project Room (NYC), the Barbican Center (London), Le Guess Who (Utrecht), Atonal (Berlin), Henie Onstad (Oslo), Unsound (Krakow), and Skanu Mesz (Riga). Her work has been commissioned by filmmakers (Ben Rivers
, Chivas de Vinck) and fashion houses (Prada, Burberry). She has exhibited in museums, galleries, and biennials including RIBOCA Biennale (Riga), Overgaden (Copenhagen), BOZAR (Brussels), Espace Paul Ricard (Paris), and MUCA ROMA (Mexico City).