Christine Ott - Only Silence Remains - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Christine Ott - Only Silence Remains

by Steve Rhodes Rating:8 Release Date:2016-05-20

The latest addition to Gizeh Records' expansive roster, French multi-instrumentalist Christine Ott is perhaps more known for her collaborations with Tindersticks, Radiohead and Yann Tiersen than as a soloist. With Only Silence Remains, her second album and first for seven years. piano tends to dominate most tracks, though a plethora of polite instrumentation features within the record, perfectly aligning itself to Gizeh's aura, with songs full of atmosphere and space that allows the music to simultaneously chime and breathe.

'Szczecin' is an delicate track, with spacious piano and gentle murmurings of cello entering and leaving the fray throughout. Rather than settling into a standard template the pace shifts, with changes in tempo and higher-end keys, adding to the drama, especially when the strings reappear. Feeling like a musical accompaniment to stage movements or a soundtrack to a dark-edged silent film it is a pleasant track, but feels a little incomplete, where an occasional bolt of percussion or electronics could have significantly benefitted it. The same could be said for 'No Memories', where the piano is completely unaccompanied, but with Christine playing at a breakneck speed in rolling bursts it still does fairly well in being unsupported by other instrumentation.

'Danse Avec La Niege' does a better job with just an eerie, delayed backing adding substance to Christine's piano, resulting in a haunting melody, like The Exorcist as directed by Fritz Lang. Opener 'A Mes Etoiles' goes a step further by throwing in harpsichord, woodwind and other instruments, the whole subtle kitchen-sink, to a stunning, ascending number. 'Sexy Moon' is a revelation, changing tact with the addition of Apollo 11 mission samples that are used sparingly to great effect rather than being gharishly overwrought as per the recent Public Service Broadcasting release. But what truly makes it is the delightful touches of Ondes Martenot, similar to a theremin but far more luscious and enveloping, whose gorgeous shrills weave alongside the piano, leading to a beautiful, more optimistic track.

As a counterpoint there is plenty of room for brooding drone such as on 'Tempete', where background atmospherics, buried sci-fi treated keys and unsettling noises are interjected into the mix. A track constantly fractious and on edge, leading to what feels like an inevitable Armageddon. 'Raintrain' combines light and dark with distant 'raindrop' field recordings and accordian sounds moving through a foreboding, hypnotic ambiance before relaxing the tension with high-end piano that finally launches the song. Tinges of percussion and a roaming double-bass add mystique and a jazzy feel to an interesting track.

The highlight of the album though is the leftfield 'Disaster'. Opening with what seems like the sound of the rotating blades of a helicopter compressed through keys, the song builds with a gust of wind, a pulsing euphoric, repetitive synth and distant bleeps before Casey Brown's spoken-word vocal appears, “rain, snow and storm you just open your eyes through solitude and desolation”, sombre and pessimistic words that are neatly at odds with the soaring and uplifting minor-key backing, before it all suddenly dissipates leaving just the piano behind. Like Godspeed You! Black Emperor's 'Dead Flag Blues' or Meanwhile Back In Communist Russia immersed in Nils Frahm.

A mood-enhancing and enchanting album that Erased Tapes would love to showcase and could be filed alongside Rachel Grimes or John Carpenter, Only Silence Remains is a masterpiece of introspective beauty, a piece that delves into neo-classicism, post-rock, chamber music and touches of noise dissonance, without settling into the comforting blanket of a individual genre.

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