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Emmanuelle Parrenin - Maison Rose CD (album) cover

MAISON ROSE

Emmanuelle Parrenin

 

Prog Folk

3.67 | 6 ratings

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Todd
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano!
5 stars Ethereal perfection!

I'm certainly no expert when it comes to Prog Folk, let alone the Chanson tradition of French folk artists. But I have been absolutely enchanted by Emmanuelle Parennin's 1977 album, "Maison Rose." Her combination of beautiful melody, ethereal vocals, delicate textured guitars, mystical hurdy-gurdy sounds, and forward-thinking/progressive approach come together perfectly for what is, for me, the perfect Prog Folk album, and one of my favorite albums period.

The title "Maison Rose" refers to the pink house where Emmanuelle was born and grew up. Her parents were classical musicians?her father a first violinist and her mother a harpist?who had escaped German forced labor camps because of the intervention of a conservatory director. Her father was given the house?the Maison Rose?where Maurice Ravel used to live and compose. Emmanuelle's father's quartet also lived in and practiced in the house, exposing Emmanuelle to constant classical music.

Emmanuelle's early experiences with music, including hanging out with Eric Clapton and the Yardbirds while on a trip to England, led to her involvement in the early French folk movement. She was part of a group of folk musicians that created Le Bourdon in 1970, a folk club whose founders travelled around France and recorded old songs that they found, eventually donating them to a museum. Emmanuelle was enthralled by the human side, the dancing and singing, which ironically planted a seed that led her away from the French folk movement. She felt the movement was becoming too purist and exclusive and was losing its human touch. Her album "Maison Rose" was her first recorded output while she was trying to transcend the boundaries of the folk movement?while clearly the music is based on the folk traditions and style that she had played and recorded for several years, this album was definitely forward-thinking and determined to break new ground.

Perhaps the best example of this is the song "Topaze." While it is the most forward-looking song on the album, it is also the most atypical song in the collection. It is made up of hurdy- gurdy manipulation and improvisation overlying a heavily doctored rhythm track that anticipates trip-hop well before its time. This song and approach encouraged her future endeavors, as she eventually left the folk scene she had helped to foster and engaged in contemporary dance for several years until a fire in 1993 damaged her inner ear. When she finally returned to music in 2011, this was the predominant path that she chose to pursue.

The other songs on the album, even if not quite as progressive as "Topaze," are each adventurous in their own way. My favorites are the quirky fragile melody of "Plume blanche, plume noir," the gorgeous layered harmonies of "Thibault et l'arbre d'or," and the delicate guitars and hurdy-gurdy of "Ce matin ŕ Frémontel?"

Whether or not you are a Folk lover, if you love beautiful, transcendent, transporting music, you owe it to yourself to find this album. Visit her bandcamp page (link on the artist page) for streaming. This easily gets the highest grade from me. (If you're interested, seek out the wonderful interview done by David McKenna on thequietus.com)

Todd | 5/5 |

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