Review – “Les Confessions” – Charles Barabé

Reviewed by Jack Derricourt

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“If music be the food of love, play on
Give me excess of it: that surfetting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.”

Jeunesses Cosmique — the words promise joy, like bubbling dolls of champagne given at graduations and space shuttle christenings. Krautrock wrought out of the heart of Montreal’s psychic space, wrought in time for a hallmark holiday. The label is ready and waiting to pluck your eyes from the twilight.

As a home for independent artists Jeunesses Cosmique have their man in Charles Barabé. The experimental composer has done everything right to keep the psychedelic dreamers dreaming with his newest assemblage, Les Confessions. Like the Jean-Jacques Rousseau work by the same title, Barabé’s music is both dignified and scandalous, coupling sumptuous highs of synths with crisp, lowly birdsong. At times, the work is so filmic, you can close your eyes and see a Finnish thriller taking place.

The release is composed of two parts: Side A, which runs a length of 17:44; and Side B, which runs a length of 17:44. If this seems excessive or too cute, just forget you thought that and listen to the pieces. The sliding, shifting sands of tone lack any static sense of rhythm, providing atmosphere rather than form. Simulated or real, the whale noises featured on side A build a womb-world that listeners migrate to through the course of the piece. There are no dramatic builds or dynamic transformations, just a solid arrangement of resounding elements.

When I started writing this review, I was certain I would give Les Confessions a few bad words. At first I felt the work was contrived to the point that it fell on its side and couldn’t get back up. A few listens in however, and I feel a new connection to Barabé’s material: it is excessive and sickening, and fulfils the wish of anyone who, like the heartsick Duke Orsino, hopes for a music that will ruin desire. Les Confessions pushes the ear into tangled bushes of thorns beneath roses, submerges thoughts with shadows of song rather than engaging them with concrete words or melodies, and beckons to dark places on the horizon. Throw this cassette together with some cinnamon hearts and you’ve got yourself one hell of a Valentines present.

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)

Top Track: the one that runs for 17:44

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