Music Reviews

Collection d’Arnell Andréa

Tristesse des Mânes


Collection d’Arnell Andréa sounds like the paintings of the old masters look–rich, warm, and deeply moving. Falling somewhere between ethereal, gothic, and contemporary classical, the group builds songs of delicate beauty and intense emotion from piano, cello, alto violin (essentially an enlarged viola, but with a clearer, more intense sound), and male and female vocals. Until now I had only heard individual tracks from the group on Hyperium’s Heavenly Voices compilations, so the full-length Tristesse des Mânes came as nothing short of a revelation for me.

As you might expect from its title (which means something like “Sorrow Of Shades” in English), nearly all the songs on this CD are in French; one is in English. But even though I don’t speak French, these songs still make perfect sense, based on the way they feel; they all explore the beauty in sorrow, the loss of love and the death of innocence, fluttering shadows and fading light. Many also seem to revolve around the Loire, a river in France, which, judging from its musical portrayal on this CD, runs dark and slow beneath brooding gray skies. Spare, melancholy instrumental accompaniments match perfectly with the somber lyrics, mostly sung by Chloé St. Liphard in a lovely, pure voice. I can’t say enough about how gorgeous the piano, cello, and alto violin are; the quality of the musicianship on the album is just outstanding, as if all of the performers had impeccable classical training as well as finely tuned gothic sensibilities.

Probably my favorite of the many outstanding tracks is “Loire et Léthé,” which is entirely instrumental (though there are lyrics printed in the CD booklet for it). It begins with fast-bowed alto and cello, and quiet piano in the background. Lovely, rapidly descending scales on the piano pair perfectly with the alto later on in the track, and unearthly harmonics on the alto glide past like ghosts of half-forgotten memories. The song paints the image of a lonely man wandering empty beside the Loire, wondering if he’s hearing the voice of his lost love, or just the murmuring waters; questioning whether he was ever really in love at all, or whether it was all just a dream, now fading away into the cold, gray light of dawn.

Prikosnovénie c/o Projekt Records:

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