It has been a long time (almost eight months – sad smiley…) that I did write a review for Distant Voices, a very unique label from the South of France. The label releases happy Pop Music… Nope, not at all! The label releases dark and obscure Music, from integer Contemporary Classical and Ambient to harsh Black Metal and DSBM. Their trademark, however, has to do with the physical formats especially: all of them, without exception, are handmade (going for both tapes and compact discs). Every single copy is home-printed, artisanally created with recycled soft paper, sometimes wrapped and bound, sometimes coming with inserted cards with (beautiful) painting, sometimes hand-written, and so on. But one thing is a certainty: it’s made with love and with darkness!
The label is run by two artists, Thomas Bel and Anne M. Thomas is the guy behind Misery (oh, I like this project; enter this name in the ‘search’-tab to read several reviews I wrote for this solo-outfit) and involved with Aube Grise (here too, about four reviews have been posted on Concreteweb). Thomas also releases albums under his own name (a review for the EP I Have Learned To Enjoy The Forsaken Lights will follow in a near future). The other person, Anne, half-French, half-Polish, is the visual artist (graphic designer, painter, photographer) for the label, also poetry writer, and main musician / composer of Aube Grise (also a project I do appreciate a lot).
Anne wrote and recorded three songs at the end of 2017, eventually mixed and mastered by Thomas in early 2018, and gathered as Aele. This material was released under her own name, Anne M. It got printed on CDr for Distant Voices (of course, what else) in a very limited edition, being 37 (thirty-seven indeed) copies. Anne took care of the visual aspects once more, and this release comes in a handmade digi-file with A5 postcard (picture taken by the artist herself), an A5-sized painting by Thomas, and a quote-card.
Aele stands for twenty minutes of integer, introvert, melancholic and unhappy piano melodies, very minimal in performance, yet rich and warm in atmosphere. Anne drew influences from modern Contemporary Classical Music artists like Estonian master Arvo Pärt and Swiss composer Jürg Frey, and I can see, or better: hear, these inspirations. The EP is like the aural translation of grey landscapes, desolate spaces, moments of oblivion and the beating heart of nothingness and emptiness, canalised via sonic minimalism. Despite that nihilistic approach and execution, there is more than just a hidden hint of experimentalism.
Do not expect an energetic recording, for Aele is about the opposite of it. But as a background soundscape, when looking outside your window at the trees subject to wind and rain, this album will certainly do just fine. Not the ‘usual’ Distant Voices stuff, but once again a demonstration of this label’s (and its crew) anti-joyful message…