Félicia Atkinson and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma have thought of this new collaboration as a series of soundscapes filled with literary
references, from Sylvia Plath's poetry to the films of Hal Hartley and Wong Kar Wai
. The album carries a strange echo of the 1990s, materialized in Julien Carreyn
's cover photograph.
When is one plus one not two? When two paths converge and a new one appears. But what is this newly activated neural pathway? A Third Mind
? In the 1960s, multimedia artist Brion Gysin
cut through the words of a newspaper and rearranged them to reveal a new kind of truth contained within the words but not freed until his knife cut it loose. He described this as part of the Third Mind. Likewise, “Limpid As The Solitudes” cuts through sound-making techniques to enter a new zone of sonic revelations.
If you had to look for musical precedents, you might say the record recalls the turn-of-the-century Mille Plateaux
glitch era, the warmth of La Monte Young's raga-inspired microtonal electronic “dream house” drones, a sense of adventure evident in the acousmatic non-space recordings made by GRM artists in the 1960s/ 1970s, 4AD's floor gazing guitar sound circa Cocteau Twins peak, and blissfully diverse field recordings. But you could equally equate it with entirely different recording sources. “Limpid As The Solitudes” has a widescreen sound that is both familiar and unfamiliar. Warm, comforting and also unsettling in unpredictable ways. Deliberate yet exploratory. It's a record composed of opposites and contrasts. Following historical guidelines yet also throwing them out of the window. It's hard to tell if the process of creating it was more akin to abstract painting but it might possibly be easier to understand if it was a large museum painting (to steal a thought from David Stubbs). To describe the album as ambient would indicate a much too passive engagement with the sound—leave it to play in the background and you'll miss a lot of the joy.
Felicia Atkinson and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma describe the record as a series of postcards—“things and sounds that happen vertically as a slow ascension, vessels communicating in dreams.” In this collaborative recording, there is a feeling of “becoming”—things metamorphose—a concrete sound turns into a electronic sound that turns into a spiral-like melody which then furls / unfurls at the same time.
The title of the album—“Limpid As The Solitudes”—as well as track titles, are all verses stolen from Sylvia Plath's poems—Atkinson notes “like dropped pearls from a lost collar.” Trying further to capture the records poetic impulses she notes it's reflects “Empathy to objects and nature's elements, meteorological states, seasons that answer to your heart, granular etchings carved and sustained to create a blurred sentimental landscape.” But notes with a sharpness that “the finale is more optimistic than Plath's poetry. Love and lyricism win, the music soaring from deep water to interstellar galaxies.”
If you look at the cover, you'll find another key clue—you'll see an image created by photographer Julien Carreyn of a young women wearing destroyed jeans, playing with bubble wrap. The image is intended to give the viewer an eerie 1990's feeling that echoes the recording. They note—“think films such as by Trust
(Hal Hartley, 1990) or Chuncking Express
(Wong Kar Wai, 1994).” They add “it's the "ultra modern solitude" of characters lost in an early-digital urban vacuum, looking for more time to wonder, a soul mate or just some compassion in the grey sky.”
Among the many other references for this album is how Google Maps have created new digital perceptions of space, Gilles Deleuze
's examination of Alice In Wonderland
, André Breton's poems and more films including the classics Sacrifice
(Antonioni) and Last Year In Marienbad
(Resnais). To dig into the more of the ideas and sources behind this record you'll simply have to talk to the duo. We simply cannot give you the full depth here.
Be sure to come back to this record more than once—it's then that it's power will work—you'll recall the sound of a lover, a garden you once walked through, an echo of a record you once loved. To be appreciated, “Limpid As The Solitudes” requires you to immerse yourself as if in a hot spring, letting the sounds float over you and alter your perceptions and memories.
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).
Jefre Cantu-Ledesma is a San Francisco-based multi-instrumentalist, founder of music label Root Strata, a founding member of Tarentel and a member of many other bands (The Holy See, The Alps, Moholy-Nagy, Isidore Ducasse, Josephine, Raum).