That Special Record – September

Another month goes by and another surprise arrives in the post. This month the album I received from ‘That Special Record‘ was ‘Verdaillon’ by ‘Saåad’. Why not press play below now before you read any further so you can hear exactly what I’m talking about.

 

Listening? Good, then I’ll begin.

This current incarnation of Saåad consists of Romain Barbot and Gregory Buffier, who were once part of the Toulousian post-hardcore scene and have produced about a dozen albums so far. I did not know any of this before the album arrived this morning, frankly, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as post-hardcore scene anywhere, which is one of the great pleasures of allowing somebody else to choose an album for you. As I am quite a few months in now I feel that I can trust Miguel at ‘That Special Record‘ not to send me anything bad as there isn’t a single release I’ve received that I haven’t liked, to varying degrees admittedly, but I’ve never not played an album multiple times and enjoyed the listen.

I find the back story of this album really rather interesting, and I’ll quote it from the official release: ‘ Upon invitation of the local Les Orgues festival, giving them access to the Puget organ located in the Church of Notre-Dame de la Dalbade, they composed an original creation that In Paradisum is proud to publish under the form of the album Verdaillon.’
My only frame of reference  for the music is the above paragraph and the sleeve of the album:
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The front cover (above) depicts building works on a Monastery in Boulogne taken in 1954 by Henri Barbot and the back cover (below) depicts the 1926 collapse of a steeple on Eglise Notre Dame de la Dalbade taken on April 11th 1926.

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As a result, through my own imagination or by design, I am transported to catacombs, to a room in the back of a church where there is water being scooped from a font, to the end of a service where a full house lays their bibles down on the pews in unison. Workmen repair something broken in an out of the way apse, monks, hoods up with faces hidden in shadow chant as an old but magnificent church organ sustains long chord changes. And then there is the ambience. It sounds almost ridiculous to me as I write it but much of this music is constructed around a church organ, an instrument I never thought would dominate any album I would ever own, but the sound of it, in it’s original setting with giant reverberations make it a powerful, dark, brooding thing at times, but at others it invokes all those memories of church services attended as a boy where everything was so very serious, and mysterious, to the child dressed up in his Sunday best and not knowing what was going on, only that it must be very important. At other times the organ is uplifting, spiritual even, bringing light to the dull lives of the listening congregation.

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Puget pipe organ in the Church of Notre-Dame de la Dalbade
If you did press play a few hundred words back then hopefully you will, by now, hear exactly what I’m getting at. This is music that would sit comfortably as the score to a Gothic film thanks to it’s mood but although categorised as Dark Ambient, Drone and others, it doesn’t seem typical of those genres to me. It has a fullness about it, textures, layers and, with the field recordings, seems to be set very much in a place, in a way of life, that is fading still.
It isn’t for everybody but, to my surprise perhaps, it is for me. It’s been on repeat all day and each cycle presents something new for me to savour.I am not religious, and this is not religious music, but it is both spiritual and secular, simultaneously of yesteryear and of tomorrow.
Tracks:
1. Egregore – 2:26
2. Marsyas (Ad Lib) – 1:32
3. The Harvest – 7:07
4. Incarnat I (Subèrn) – 3:31
5. Opaque Mirror – 5:24
6. Incarnat II (1888) – 2:05
7. Eternal Grow – 6:01
8. Incarnat III (The Invisible Steeple) – 4:46
9 .Vorde – 7:50
Credits:music by Romain Barbot & Grégory Buffier .
Romain Barbot : grand orgue, aulos, vocals, grand orgue samples, field recordings.
Grégory Buffler : grand orgue, aulos, guitar, acoustic laptop, field recordings.
additional aulos on The Harvest by Patrick Faubert.
Grand orgue recorded by Patrick Faubert on 18th & 19th June, 2014 (Toulouse, France), additional recordings by Romain Barbot & Grégory Buffier (2014-2015).
mixed by Aurélien Prévost at BillyPan studio (2015)
mastered by James Plotkin (2016)

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