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EMMANUELLE PARRENIN

Prog Folk • France


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Emmanuelle Parrenin biography
French artist EMMANUELLE PARRENIN brings us music which is based in the chanson folk tradition, but which blends Celtic, psychedelic, space, and many progressive elements, all of which combine to provide a wonderful listening experience. The music is quite delicate and fragile. Her voice is ethereal and beautiful, and she also plays hurdy-gurdy, dulcimer, spinet, and percussion.

In the 1970s, Emmanuelle contributed to several folk projects, including Melusine, Gentiane, and La Confrerie des Fous. She released several albums under her own name as well. Her best and most well-known album, "Maison Rose" from 1977, refers to the pink house where she 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. The album has been reissued no less than three times in the ensuing years.

Many years later, in 2011, Emmanuelle released a follow-up album, "Maison Cube," named for the house used for recording the album. The new album blends her unique take on the French chanson movement with modern twists, creating another ethereal, wonderful album.


>> Bio by Bob Moore (aka ClemofNazareth) and Todd <<

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Maison RoseMaison Rose
Import
Lion Productions 2009
Audio CD$8.89
$8.25 (used)
Maison CubeMaison Cube
Import
Disques Bien 2011
Audio CD$69.00 (used)
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EMMANUELLE PARRENIN discography


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EMMANUELLE PARRENIN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Chateau Dans Les Nuages (with Phil Fromont and Claude Lefebvre)
1971
0.00 | 0 ratings
Le Galant Noye (with Jean-Loup Baly, Jean-Francois Dutertre and Dominique Regef)
1975
3.67 | 6 ratings
Maison Rose
1977
3.50 | 2 ratings
Maison Cube
2011

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EMMANUELLE PARRENIN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Maison Rose by PARRENIN, EMMANUELLE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.67 | 6 ratings

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Maison Rose
Emmanuelle Parrenin Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3.5 stars really!!

Although Maison Rose wasn't Parrenin's first album (she'd made a few under various names), it definitely the one she's remembered for by the semi-mainstream folk public. Originally released in 77 on the Ballon Noir label (like the other French prog-folk marvel Ripaille), Emmanuelle wrote and played almost alone the hug majority on this album. If there are some guests (including Gong's Malherbe) and co-writing credits, the only other fairly constant person is drummer and effects man Bruno Menny. The rather naive artwork is a good indication of what to expect from the calm brand of folk, where singer-songwriter songs alternate with more experimental instrumental folk track, the latter being obviously the more interesting for the proghead. All of the medieval instruments (among which spinet, hurdy and dulcimer) are played by Emmanuelle, and her crystal-clear voice illuminates Gasser or Vagh's guitar-based songs.

Around half of the tracks on Maison Rose are fairly straightforward (ala Vashti, Sill, Denny or Shelagh), like Ce Matin, Plume Blanche, Thibault or later on with the more traditional Belle Virginie or the title track (with multi-tracked vocals) or the buns Voyage Migrateur. Of course, once the needle or beam hit other tracks like the superb Liturgie or the medieval Ritournelle (a sort of jig), the string-laden Echarpe or the awesome dronal and ambient Apr's L'Ond'e (segueing in the album-closing R've), then the proghead can soar into the stratosphere. The real masterpiece is the almost 7-mins Topaze, where Menny's hypnotizing drum beat and his strange noises and freaky arrangements allow Parrenin to pull wails and screams from her instruments. Just that track alone is almost worth the price of admission. The Neptune piece bears a slight Indian influence, due to a tambura- sounding dulcimer.

The CD reissue comes with a bonus track that was recorded in the same session, but intended for another soundtrack project, but it fits in perfectly with the album's general direction, but might have been better placed earlier on the album, rather than tagged-on at its end. Of course, we can thank the Musea team for unearthing this little gem, which has become on of their best seller, and not least, provided Parrenin enough light to return in the last two years to her musical career after having raised her family. Definitely an enjoyable gem that's worthy of your investigation, but I wouldn't call essential listening for a prog folkheads novice.

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 Maison Cube by PARRENIN, EMMANUELLE album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.50 | 2 ratings

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Maison Cube
Emmanuelle Parrenin Prog Folk

Review by 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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 Maison Rose by PARRENIN, EMMANUELLE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.67 | 6 ratings

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Maison Rose
Emmanuelle Parrenin Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars Perhaps the best known of Emmanuelle Parrenin's albums, "Maison Rose" might initially sound like a product of the early 70s. This impression eventually yields to the realization that such a synthesis of styles could only have come about later in that decade. On the surface an acoustic folk record by this talented multi-instrumentalist, it transcends easy labeling through its frequent ambient textures that veer closer to Klaus Schulz than Gabriel Yacoub.

Parrenin possesses an earthy and versatile voice within a range of mellow folk and jazzy realms, with "Thibault et LArbre D'Or" and "Plume Blanche Plume Noire" being high points of both respectively. Still more stunning is the appropriately dreamy and hypnotic "Le Reve" that closes the disk in an minimalist chant of sorts backed by flute and delicate acoustic guitar.

The album is at least half instrumental, and here is where it gets a bit less convincing. Not that there is anything wrong with the atmospheric nature of most of these pieces, but on a short LP- length work, they amount to interesting transitional material without the requisite adhesive effect. "Topaze" is certainly involved and experimental, notable for percussion and studio effects but not worthy of its near 7 minute length. The one that best stands alone is the eerie "Apres L'Ondee", an inductive slice of acoustically based electronica.

Viewed through anything other than rose coloured glasses, this very tranquil reissue is not even a minor classic, but it is still worth hearing if you are into its composite influences and not hampered too much by labels.

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 Maison Cube by PARRENIN, EMMANUELLE album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.50 | 2 ratings

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Maison Cube
Emmanuelle Parrenin Prog Folk

Review by 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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 Maison Rose by PARRENIN, EMMANUELLE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.67 | 6 ratings

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Maison Rose
Emmanuelle Parrenin Prog Folk

Review by 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 à 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)

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Thanks to Todd for the artist addition.

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