The album of French accordionist-turntable and electronics player Émilie Škrijelj and Belgian drummer Tom Malmendier, «Les Marquises», is the first one of their newly-founded label, eux sæm, focused on experimental and free-improvised music. Surprisingly enough, the title of this album is an homage to the great Belgian chansonnier-actor Jacques Brel and his famous song «Les Marquises» (from his last album «Brel», 1977). The titles of the three pieces twist quotes from Brel’s songs.
Malmendier is known for his collaborations with like-minded experimental improvisers as fellow-Belgian Dirk Serries and Farida Amadou and Portuguese Ernesto Rodrigues, Miguel Mira, and Luis Vicente. Škrijelj plays the accordion and the turntable in a unique way, producing abstract, ethereal sounds from the accordion and percussive sounds from the turntable. Škrijelj and Malmendier recorded «Les Marquises» at White Noise Studio in Winterswijk, the Netherlands in October 2019.
The first piece «Des carottes dans les cheveux» (Carrots in my hair) demonstrates best Škrijelj and Malmendier interplay. Super-fast, playful, inventive, and insatiable. They sound as if they are all over the electronics set of devices and the drum-set, busy exchanging ideas and strange, cartoonish sounds and voices with a great sense of timing and sharp humor while creating countless, nuanced electroacoustic storms. I guess that Škrijelj and Malmendier borrowed some theatrical stunts and expressive pathos from Brel, but, again, distilled all into their personal aesthetics.
Škrijelj introduces her accordion, field recordings, and white noises on «Chemins de pluie» (Rain paths), and together with the reserved contributions of Tom Malmendier, both create a mysterious and unsettling, cinematic texture that occasionally cultivates brief, melodic veins. The last piece, «Au fond d’une tisane» (At the bottom of a herbal tea) still relies on the abstract sounds produced by Škrijelj’s accordion but its subtle, minimalist spirit adds a haunting, poetic quality.
I think that Brel would have been proud of the imaginative creativity of Škrijelj and Malmendier.
Émilie Škrijelj (acc, turntable, sampler, elec), Tom Malmendier (dr)