AL-'AN ! (And Your Night Is Your Shadow; A Fairy Tale Of Piece Of Land To Make Our Dreams)
2LP first edition: green clear vinyl + printed innersleeves + download card
With this ambitious project partly recorded in Beirut with local musicians and featuring Mondkopf, Charbel Haber, Sharif Sehnaoui, G.W. Sok, Tamer Abu Ghazaleh, Oiseaux-Tempête have achieved a far more complex work, richer in texture, the intertwining of acoustic elements with electronica, roaming and shaking the foundations of this almost labyrinthian personal opus of an album. As ever, the group realises both the immersive and also the total physicality on the record.
In Oiseaux-Tempête, Frédéric D. Oberland and Stéphane Pigneul have chosen a name, a call from the sea, of almost totemic quality. First, perhaps, it offers the suggestion of journeys over great distance, the distant hymns of fortune-tellers and gravitydefying acts of the oracles. Yet at the same time, comes the idea of earthly chaos, a willing reference to the telluric frenzy that darkens the sky yet also, paradoxically, brings promise of a radiant tomorrow.
The third part of a journey that commenced in 2012. A two part - aesthetic and political - proposition. How to build something that speaks of the present, that transcribes it, mirrors it, opens discourse and questions, and provokes the sharing of experience that conjures away this contemporary malaise of powerlessness and, in turn, opens doors to a common future?
The destination, Beirut - the very heart of, what perhaps it's most famous historians named, the "storm zone". With 17 different communities and all the cultural and religious fusion that that implies, its common frontiers with Syria and Israel, streams of Palestinian and Syrian refugees, the stigmata from a 15 year civil war still very much in the air, this enclave that opens onto the sea appears to be a concentrated amalgamation of all the political challenges that are faced by the Middle-East.
Above all though, was the music. The chance to collaborate with two members of Johnny Kafta Anti-Vegetarian Orchestra, guitarist Charbel Haber (Scrambled Eggs, The Bunny Tylers) and percussionist Sharif Sehnaoui (Karkhana, Alan Bishop, Okay Temiz) presented itself. As always, working with urgency, spontaneity and without pre-written material, they found themselves performing in the local improv scenes or in the studio with Charbel, Sharif, Ali El Hout and Abed Kobeissy (Asil ensemble for contemporary classical Arabic music, Two or the Dragon), Pascal Semerdjian (Postcards) and the oud player Youmna Saba. Each arrived at their own unique language, creating the terms of a dialogue rooted in the present and without set rules. These recordings from the Tunefork studio and made inside the flat they're renting in Mar Mikhael (only a short walk from the port where the refuse of the city piles up), would give birth to the early sketches of what can now be heard on AL-'AN! . Back in France, in Brittany and in Paris, the sessions were completed at Kerwax and Magnum Diva studios with drummer Sylvain Joasson (Mendelson), electronic musician Mondkopf, the soprano saxophone of Stéphane Rives and the vocalists Tamer Abu Ghazaleh and G.W. Sok.
As a seismograph it measures. Aware to the heart beat, of the hypnotic pulse from the analogue machines to the explosion of matter and matters. And in the same way, AL-'AN ! remembers. Memories in the far more intimate form of the travel diary, each track the capturing of a moment, brief sketches, the first notes the faint outlines of a specific atmosphere, the chords building little by little the heavier lines of a coherent edifice, an innate sense of structure beneath the apparent fragmentation. The keystone reveals itself only as the journey ends, the final side of the record, in the form of the epic 17 minutes of "Through The Speech of Stars" resolving in the misty haze of " À l'Aube".
AL-'AN ! proceeds from a logic of abundance, from the diversity of character to the binds that give it its structure. Not only because this opus is blending the Arabic, French and English languages, and in doing so constructs a dialogue between Europe and the Middle-East. But also because it safeguards moments of wondering (« I Don't Know What Or Why (Mish Aaref Eish w Leish »), of self doubt, of nocturnal reveries, of times of fervour and of compact and condensed energy. The feeling of tension and confinement is mirrored in the open spaces of the night beneath a blanket of stars. Silence responds to the heat of noise, urban chaos greeting endless space, creating moments of calm which on previous albums had been only hinted at. Sacred songs (In "Carnaval" the echo of the track "Wa Habibi" from Fairuz, captured from a street corner on a Holy Friday can be heard) give way to secular poems. The words of Mahmoud Darwish his own voice on "The Offering" and his words, taken from "The Red Indian's Penultimate Speech To The White Man" ,resonate on "Through The Speech Of Stars". The speech of the political, an articulated language ,finds its counterpart in the anonymous scream or the sound of singing birds. Like a chorale, AL-'AN ! blurs the origins. It embraces this "Now!" the living and the dead, the world and us, the misery and the bliss of being. Here and now. One thing is certain: the story of the night that OISEAUX-TEMPÊTE paints is one that moves towards the day, and is one in which Eros still has words left to say.