Monday, June 1, 2020
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Camecrude: Enclave I

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Artist: Camecrude
Title: Enclave I
Format: CD + Download
Label: Cioran Records (@)
Rated: *****
Well, after reviewing a couple of noise albums recently I really wasn't in the mood for another, but this has been hanging around for a while so let's get on with it. Inspired by Emil Cioran (Romanian philosopher and essayist, whose work is noted for its pervasive philosophical pessimism, and frequently engages with issues of suffering, decay, and nihilism), Camecrude is the project of Valentin Laborde, an hurdy gurdy player located in the French Pyrenees. (For those whose only reference to a hurdy gurdy is Donovan's song "Hurdy Gurdy Man," it's a medieval string instrument played by turning a wheel with a crank and pressing keys for changing notes.) Camecrude creates a unique kind of music by crossbreeding noise, hurdy gurdy, drone, along with words from Emil Cioran, and occitan exorcisms. With an album recorded only during his insomnias, Camecrude brings his own vision of a true pessimism and his reading from E.M.C. Of course, these readings are all in French, so you won't get the full effect unless you know the language.

The album consists of six tracks - 1. "A l'Endarrer co de Maudit" (Behind the Damned) [7:57} 2. Desarticulation du Temps (Disarticulation of Time) [6:12] 3. "Te Dobti" (I Doubted You) [10:25] 4. "Mesure de la Souffrance" (Measure of Suffering) [6:33] 5. "L'Ombre de Soi" (The Shadow of Self) [10:30] 6. "Variations sur la Mort" (Variations on Death) [9:21]. First, I have to say that it is very hard to believe that the only (source) instrument on this recording is a hurdy gurdy, even processed through a multitude of electronics gear (which it undoubtedly must be) there is just too much sonic variety for my ears to believe that it came from just one source. The artist (as well as the label) describes Camecrude as a harsh ritual noise project, but from what I'm hearing, it's really so much more than that. I think surrealism comes into play, even though the term is cliched and overused, I feel as though it is vitally applicable here. Not just because the artist is French (after all, Surrealism was first and foremost a French art movement) but because it was created to shock people out of complacency. 'Enclave I' will definitely do that without hardly even trying. At times in this work wordless voices lift up as if they are singing the praises of some electronic god. At other times you will encounter a hellstorm of noise, static and electronic madness. There is a lengthy passage in "L'Ombre de Soi" that is a rather quiet interlude (after experiencing a healthy dollop of electronic and vocal chaos) that is dream-like and somewhat musical; not quite serene but like a passing memory of a more pleasant time. This is one example of what makes 'Enclave I' such a radically different harsh noise album.

There are numerous subtleties that many noise artists don't incorporate in their performance that seem innate to the music of Camecrude. That's what really makes the difference here. Still, if ear-bleeding, mind-bending noise is what you're after, you'll find that too. "Variations sur la Mort" literally screams with it once it gets going and carries it through right to the end. I should warn you that 'Enclave I' is a difficult listening experience, and I wouldn't recommend it to the merely curious. You really need to have a love of harsh noise and power electronics to appreciate it. One critical note - I think some of this could have benefitted from some sort of percussion/rhythm. Likely it was not part of the artist's vision, but there were points in a couple of the pieces that I could see it justified. Just sayin'. Overall though 'Enclave I' is an intriguing work that merits attention. I think the CD in the black wooden box with the extra artwork is sold out (being a limited edition) but you can still do the download.

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