Conceived to compose music for dance, film, and theatre, Snowdrops is a collaboration between keyboardists Christine Ott and Mathieu Gabry. While Mathieu creates on more traditional keys, namely piano and synths, Christine’s work, both with Snowdrops, and solo, is defined by her mastery of the Ondes Martenot. I’ve written a little about this unique instrument before, when reviewing Christine’s 2020 record Chimères, but for those of you that might not know, dating from 1928, the same year as the theremin, the Ondes Martenot is an “ancient” wave oscillator, that emits a very distinctive, ethereal, almost voice. On the duo’s latest release, Missing Island, Christine alternates between the Ondes Martenot, and harmonium.
Recorded in a single session, with Anne-Irène Kempf joining on viola for all but one track – adding sad cycling strings and playful pizzicato patterns – the peaceful pieces are all concerned with the interconnectivity of the universe, and our place within it. The relationship between time and space. These are gentle Gymnopédies – sometimes baring serene cinematic echoes of, say, Wim Mertens` Belly Of An Architect score – where rippling repetition, tinkling ivories, paint pictures of eddies, tides, and currents, and percussion collides like crashing surf. The assorted electronic LFOs, and buzzing, dramatic drones, adding a suitably cosmic / kosmische edge.
Calming, and contemplative, the music is obviously rooted in classical composition, but also carries a significant spiritual component. The press sheet cites the poet Rainer Maria Rilke as a source of inspiration, quoting prose that speaks of waiting patiently for the birth of clarity in the dark. This introspective, meditative, aesthetic means that the set should find additional fans in more open-minded jazz / ECM heads, and folks searching for interesting “ambient” art to soundtrack, illuminate, their sunsets.
Snowdrops` Missing Island is released today, on Injazero Records.