Monday, June 1, 2020
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Artist: Roedelius + Chaplin
Title: King of Hearts
Format: CD
Label: Sub Rosa (@)
Rated: *****
I'm getting into the habit of blindly listening upcoming releases by playing them without worrying about the author or the label: it happened during this kind of random listening that when my eardrum met the first track of this release "Comme Ãça", some scenes from Charlie Chaplin's "City Lights" and the moving poetry behind his tender awkwardness and his touching care in the love affair with a blind flower girl, in the attempt of collecting money for an expensive sight-saving operation, have been immediately rendered into my mind. You can just imagine my surprise when I discovered that one of the co-signers of this graceful release is no less than Christopher Chaplin, the youngest son of Charlie Chaplin, who remixed a live piano set by another musical living legend as it is the German avantgarde composer and krautrock pioneer Hans-Joachim Roedelius for Fiona Talkington's "Late Junction Session" on BBC Radio 3. When Roedelius was invited to choose a musician to remix his live set, he opted for Chaplin, whom he first met at the "Gugginger Irritationem 2", a festival in Wien, focused on Art Brut. I've not read anything about source for inspiration and themes behind "King Of Hearts", but the title could let you imagine the tale about a dethroned noble-minded and big-hearted king, who decides to return to his previous kingdom in order to restore justice and peace after hearing and ascertain his previous beloved subjects in despair. The first part of the album seems to evoke a grim reality where oppression and covetousness muted poeple's souls, whose gravity resounds with the sad piano arpeggios and anxious bells on "Autrement", the menacing atmosphere evoked by "Mais oui", the solitary remembrance, which seems to be activated by electronic chirping birds, on "Tout à fait", the aching emotional outbursts on the catchy tangle of a torn and disquiet piano melody, an afflicted violin in "Parce que", which precedes the consciousness raising, the recovered temperament and the declaration of intent by this imaginary king, whose heartbeat and voice first appear on the amazing "Evidemment", whereas the slow slapping on lead guitar and the organ on "Bien Sur" evokes a cogitation about a strategy. The delicate cover of notorious "By This River", the song Roedelius co-wrote with Brian Eno and Moebius, on "Aussi Bien", the regal portamento of jazzy "N'est-ce pas", the sliding joint between a distorted guitar and faltering piano melody on "Tant mieux" and the amazing final track "Voici", a sort of crossbreeding between improvisational jazz techniques and suffused lights Roedelius applies on sounds, are going to let you imagine how the story could end. A somewhat unorthodox piece of good contemporary classical music.