Snowdrops is the France chamber duo of pianists-keyboards players Christine Ott, known for her work with film composer Yann Tiersen, the British art-rock band Tindrsticks, and the French post-rock experimentalists Oiseaux-Tempête, and Mathieu Gabry, who have been working together since 2015 and so far created a special live performance in the Archaeological Crypt of Paris, under the square of Notre Dame («Live at the Archaeological Crypt of Paris», Gizeh, 2017), and composed music for the film «Manta Ray» by Thai director Phuttiphong Aroonpheng (Gizeh, 2019, the film won the Best Film Award at Venice Film).
Ott plays the piano and the proto-synth Ondes Martenot (invented in 1928 by Maurice Martenot, the same year as the theremin was patented in Russia), whose ghostly sounds may be familiar from horror movies but used also by modern composers like Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Boulez, Edgar Varèse and Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood. Gabry alternates between the piano, and the vintage mellotron, and the analog synth MS 2000. They are joined by viola player Anne Irène-Kempf. «Volutes» was recorded at Wurth Museum Auditorium, Erstein, in July 2019.
The music of Snowdrops is a nuanced and intimate blend of chamber contemporary music, ambient and electronics, and melancholic jazz with a strong cinematic flavor. The minimalist music of the opening «Comma» and its reprise at the end of the album flows gently, while Ott employs the vintage Ondes Martenot to create graceful waves that invite the listener to immerse into its Brian Eno-esque ambiance. The cinematic «Trapezian Fields» contrasts the lilting acoustic piano with the alien, sci-fi sounds of the Ondes Martenot. «Ultraviolet» and «Inception» revolve around mysterious, repetitive waves of the exquisite acoustic viola, piano and the vintage synths, all-embracing in soft atmospheric soundscapes. The epic 13-minutes «Odysseus» sketches an evocative, drama somewhere, far away in deep space.
The slow-cooking, chamber-ambient «Volutes» may be a perfect soundtrack for the current, unsettling era.
Christine Ott (p, Ondes Martenot), Anne-Irène Kempf (viola), Mathieu Gabry (p, mellotron, MS2000)