French guitar improvisationist/dynamo Thomas Bonvalet is the sole noisemaker in L’Ocelle Mare. He hails from the John Fahey school of anti-songwriting, beating his instrument with complete focus and purpose and in a manner not resembling in the least how it was intended to be played. There are no verses, no choruses, no refrains, no repetition, just a flurry of fingers hitting frets and strings plucked with abandon.
The careening atmospherics he creates shine brightly in the shadowy pall of silence that hangs over all of this album’s tracks — he even includes a couple short tracks of complete silence as a palate cleanser. With 16 tracks and just barely flirting with the half-hour mark, Bonvalet’s compositions are wholly fleeting. They exist in short bursts of emotion and confusion and quickly sink back into the natural darkness of the rural areas (farms, old churches, caves) in which they were recorded. Given its environment and immediacy, in a sense this is one of the purest of folk albums to surface in recent years.
It won’t have the same cultural resonance as Bob Dylan or Woody Guthrie — and people needing a human face on their folk music will likely be completely turned off — but its nameless odes to the chaos of nature are equally as timeless.
Sickroom Records: www.sickroomrecords.com