Monday 27. 3.
Started as a one-off collaboration in 2017, the musical partnership between the French composer and electronic music producer and Bulgarian composer and instrumentalist is now being renewed, both live and in the studio. An unprecedented and forward-looking meeting of the minds that melds machines with percussion, and the electronic with the acoustic.
Originally, the collaboration was intended to be ephemeral, conjured up for a live performance filmed by the Sourdoreille Collective for their Variations series. For one evening, the “classical” instrumentalist and electronic producer came together on stage for a tribute to Steve Reich's iconic composition Music for 18 Musicians: “Reich is the most obvious link between electronic music and art music," explains Chloé. “It was a starting point, a pretext, to go elsewhere. The idea was then to move away from it. At that time, I was finishing my album and in particular The Dawn, which was inching towards these marimba sounds.” Following their first encounter, the duo decided to extend their collaboration.
The duo was given the opportunity to develop their collaboration as part of a residency at contemporary artist Xavier Veilhan's Studio Venezia (the French pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale), where they were assisted by Nigel Godrich (a producer who has worked with (Radiohead, Beck, U2, and Air). For six days, they recorded their productions while developing a one-hour live performance. “The idea was the construction of the pieces around organized and disorganized structures,” explains Chloé. “I am constantly sampling Vassilena and processing the takes live, with loops, effects… We then play off a constantly coming and going improvisational game that allows to settle into repetitive, driving music.”
The marimba's combined rhythmic and aerial character, and its alliance with beats and programming recall works such as the Cliff Martinez's soundtrack for Soderbergh's remake of Solaris, Pantha du Prince's productions, or recent electronic albums like Simian Mobile Disco's 2018Murmurations. „The marimba the keyboard percussion instrument which offers the most possibilities with its five octaves. Compared to the vibraphone, the sound of the wood attracts me more than the sound of metal: it is warmer, more organic, it allows a great expressiveness“ explains Vassilena.
Their method of composing, working, finding new ways of operating is constantly evolving. The collaboration is no longer a temporary (albeit successful) episode: it becomes a common project. „It's a collaboration that lifts me, helps me grow,“ enthused Chloé. „Vassilena is quite open to experimentation, to make room for a partner who will shake up her more academic background. Also, she always has a lot of ideas and energy. Her way of playing is very inspiring“.
Very motivated by these first steps and the excitement generated by the project, the duo has worked on a 7" record to be released on the occasion of the Record Store Day as part of the Unik Sessions (produced by Adami and Radio France). This release features a very rhythmic track (Balani), and a more atmospheric flipside (AEB Hubavi Otchi), both recorded at the Maison de la Radio, direct to vinyl and without alterations. Like all the project’s original compositions, these two track were born from live sessions and matured over the course of live performances.
Vassilena talks about this with the expertise of an accomplished classically-trained musician: “Chloé loves to play with mistakes to create, it's very typical of jazz musicians and improvisers. Initially we also made mistakes, but we have been able to turn them into real musical ideas… We learned to stay flexible and open.” Chloe confirms this impression and the ability of this collaboration to decompartmentalize the academic and club genres: “this collaboration changed me from the performance perspective. In this live performance, I draw my musical materials from Vassilena's playing, adding loops, effects. I have to be constantly listening and reinterpreting. In that sense, electronic music is no longer just a genre, it is a tool which allows you to open up to other universes.”
Following over two years of touring throughout Europe, including stops at foundational festivals (Musiq3, Days Off, Verbier Festival, Festival de Musique de Menton), their work process has become more and more refined. Chloé and Vassilena have reinvented their own repertoire and perfected their style, forging an acoustic/electronic identity that is very much influenced by the live experience.
To build upon all the exciting creative avenues they have opened up in recent years, an album is currently in the works, to be released on Lumière Noire Records in the fall of 2021.