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SNOWDROPS

«Missing Island»
INJAZERO RECORDS, INJA018

The French experimental, chamber Snowdrops began as a duo of multi-instrumentalists Christine Ott, playing the unconventional hand-pumped organ, the harmonium d’inde, and the early electronic instrument, the ondes Martenot, plus the piano, with Mathieu Gabry, playing piano and synths, focusing on composing music for films, theater, plays, or dance. In 2020 the duo became a trio with the addition of violist Anne-Irène Kempf and released Volutes (Injazero, 2020). Missing Island, recorded at l’Auditorium de la Fondation Wurth in Erstein in July 2020,  follows Volutes with a musical-metaphysical fresco in seven pieces, a naturalist painting that exists between contemporary classical, post-folk and electro-acoustic music.

The opening, dreamy piece «Retour à la terre» borrows a few famous verses from poet Rainer Maria Rilke from Letters to a Young Poet), that capture the suggestive and cinematic, timeless-spiritual aesthetics of Snowdrops: «Everything is gestation and bringing forth. To let each impression and each germ of feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark, in the inexpressible, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own intelligence, and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of a new clarity». The following «Firebirds» and «Land of Waves» cement even deeper these untimely and evocative threads with mysterious, lyrical dances for piano, viola and ondes Martenot, somehow reminiscing the hypnotic dances of the mystic G.I. Gurdjieff.

The melancholic and quiet «Nostalgia de la luz» was inspired by the documentary of the same name, directed by Patricio Guzmán, where astronomers from all over the world gather in the South American Atacama Desert to observe the stars. It is also a place where the dryness of the soil keeps human remains intact: those of mummies, and explorers, but also the bones of political prisoners of the past dictatorship. While astronomers scan the galaxies in search of probable extraterrestrial life, at the foot of the observatories, women move the stones in search of their missing relatives. The minimalist «Radioactive Breath» expands the theme of Paradise and Paradise lost and the human impact on the environment, the main theme of Missing Island and a recurring theme in Ott’s work. But «Comme un souffle qui vient…» suggests another mysterious and untimely mystical dance, and the last piece «Mémoires élementaires» offers some beautiful, touching memories of our almost lost Paradise, with the highly personal rainbow of feelings and colors of Snowdrops.

Eyal Hareuveni

Christine Ott (harmonium d’inde, ondes Martenot, p), Mathieu Gabry (p, synth), Anne-Irène Kempf (viola)

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