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Emmanuelle Parrenin - Maison Cube CD (album) cover

MAISON CUBE

Emmanuelle Parrenin

Prog Folk


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Todd
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Rock Progressivo Italiano!
4 stars A testament to the healing power of music

After Emmanuelle Parrenin's perfect 1977 album, "Maison Rose," she left the folk movement and chose dance as her medium of artistic expression, writing music and dancing in shows until 1993. It was then that tragedy struck in the form of a domestic fire, which damaged her inner ear, including her hearing and balance. She isolated herself in a chalet and turned to music as a form of healing, both physical and spiritual. She played and sang, nurturing her inner ear and retraining her senses of hearing and equilibrium, while at the same time soothing a damaged soul. She felt vibrations and sang with them, although she couldn't hear herself. Gradually, as she came to appreciate the value of music, she reached out to afflicted people in hospitals, offering them the same type of healing she had experienced.

Eventually she determined that she wanted to give a release to all the music that was inside her. She was introduced to songwriter Flóp (Francisco López), who read poems and lyrics to her. She selected her favorites and improvised on them. This collaboration led to her comeback album of 2011, "Maison Cube." Just as "Maison Rose" was named for the house where she was born and grew up, "Maison Cube" was named for the house where the album was developed and recorded.

"Maison Cube" draws upon many of the same threads that she so beautifully left on "Maison Rose." But there are new, modern twists, along with a focus on rhythm on many tracks. Whereas the spacey, ethereal atmosphere preferred in 1977 is very prevalent here, the pulsing rhythm of the song "Topaze" from "Maison Rose" has been developed and featured in spades, particularly on the title track. In fact, Emmanuelle says that there were many songs in this same style which did not make the cut, but which she will continue to follow on subsequent recordings.

In addition to the title track, noteworthy tracks include the beautiful "Collectage," which is in homage to her previous recording of rural folk artists as part of the folk club Le Bourdon. There are layered drones ("Le Secret"), textured guitars and harp ("Nulle part"), nostalgic harmonies with guitar and hurdy-gurdy ("La Bar Mitsva"), and modern guitars and effects ("Je t'aime"). And always, always, interesting, beautiful, evocative vocals.

Overall, this comeback is a notch below the perfect "Maison Rose," but what a worthy and wonderful return to recorded music. She has come to give us her gifts, which she has used and nurtured over the last decades. Stunning. 4.5 stars. (If you're interested, seek out the wonderful interview done by David McKenna on thequietus.com)

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Send comments to Todd (BETA) | Report this review (#603169)
Posted Wednesday, January 04, 2012 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars The return of the French folk priestess after some 35 years of silence ? which I suppose was to raise a family. I'm always a bit wary of these "returns", but a quick look at the line-up on Maison Cube quickly convinced to investigate this album, which makes a reference to Maison Rose of 77. Plenty of old historical instruments, a good dose of vintage rock instruments (including "human drums") and the label statement that the artiste is the only one deciding of the album's content were quite enough arguments to flick my curiosity box.

The album is a mix of medieval-sounding folk like Même De Dos, Ecole De Patience or Nulle Part, sometimes using drones (mainly the hurdy gurdy), like the opening Route, the slightly ethnic Bar Mitsva, the haunting and eerie Secret. Elsewhere, some tracks are sometimes too-cute (for its own good) folky-pop tunes, such as Je T'Aime or Nulle Part, while other tracks are Wyrd/pagan/electronica folk tinge, like Collectage, Pleure or the eerie album-lengthier title track. What a world f difference between Je T'aime and Le Plus Clair and the title track finale.

A rather pleasant and surprising album, Maison Cube comes with a jewel case format Mini Lp sleeve, which adds much charm to the whole oeuvre. In some ways, I can draw a comparison with what Judy Dyble has done with her recent second career (see her entry), and in general, this is a good recommendation for prog-folkheads.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#747508)
Posted Wednesday, May 02, 2012 | Review Permalink

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