Belgian violinist-violist-composer Catherine Graindorge is known for her collaborations with Nick Cave and Mark Lanegan as well as her work as part of the psychedelic post-rock band Nile on waX and the music she has written for film and theatre. «Eldorado» is the second solo album of Graindorge, and obviously, is titled after the mythical city of gold, a legend that pushed the conquistadors further and further across a continent in search of riches, and imagines the rough and unwinding roads to such imaginary place, but in highly personal and current perspectives.
«Eldorado» was produced by John Parish, known for his work with PJ Harvey and Rokia Traoré, who collaborated before with Nile on waX , and was recorded at his English studio. It offers nine layered and carefully nuanced, intimate and cinematic soundscapes and drones. Graindorge began working on this album in 2015, soon after her father passed away, but only in 2019 she found the time to imagine the album as a sonic diary, where each piece brings new reflections, memories and resonances. Accordingly, Graindorge’s way to her own Eldorado takes curious emotional twists and turns, ranging from stillness to frustration, and even her violin is disguised, shapeshifted by electronics.
The opening, the melancholic and haunting piece «Rosalie», sets the atmosphere of «Eldorado». It was composed after Graindorge read about the death of a Rwandan woman, shortly after she returned to Belgium from Rwanda after burying the remains of the bodies of her family, slaughtered at the genocide. Three days after her return, her heart stopped. She was 51 years old. The following, effects-laden, resonant drone «Lockdown» captures the frustrating and claustrophobic times of the covid-19 confinement when only music brought some joy to those who were isolated. Even the title piece suggests that the way to Graindorge’s own fabled city may be raw, distorted, and thorny. «Ghost Train», with Graindorge’s softly spoken words, floats further through the swirling fog of processed violin sounds.
The dark, contemplative atmosphere brightens on the intimate «Sailing in the Air” and «Butterfly in a Frame». Now Graindorge frames «Eldorado» as a sonic expression for a better future, and a better, compassionate world, concerned about climate change and the destruction of our earth, as «Kangaroos in Fire» tells. This arresting and beautiful sonic journey through painful and stressful memory lanes ends in a hopeful note, a touching homage to ambient music pioneer Brian Eno, «Eno», himself one of the most outspoken artists advocating social justice and climate change issues.
Catherine Graindorge (vio, viola, harmonium, v, elec), John Parish (g)