Porzellan – The Lost Library
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Now, this is something special… The Lost Library is the latest album from Porzellan – violinist Francis Cazal. Variously described as pursuing neo-classical, or lowercase sound, jump into this album, and you’ll soon find none of that really applies – witness the pulses on Floating Reception, that click with the poise and precision of a Nicolai or a Bretschneider, that are expertly paired against the waves of sound that follow on The Shelf Of Stars, with its upper register of looped morse-code sparkle cutting across the main arcs, or the holding pattern pads of Todd Seminary Hall.
Drawn out tones dominate the rest of the album – layers of slow bowing, sometimes building up into almost organ like tones, sometimes one group of lines highlighted – there’s no ‘chamber’ echo here, no sense of artificially added gravitas. In fact, the way the patterns run into each other gives everything an attractively liquid quality, that feels very natural.
There is much that could be described as minimal here, of course, at least in terms of activity, but that wouldn’t do real justice to the amount of sound that Cazal produces; there is a speaker troubling amount of bass on some of the tracks here – emerging from the careful overlapping of tones and the resonant peaks of his sound. Lower case with teeth then? Maybe, but there is only a little sense of the silence around notes here – most of this record’s sense of stasis comes from the measured, slowly unfurling nature of tracks like Children of the Roaring Twenties. There is an almost baroque, salonesque feel to tracks like this – music for ballrooms or libraries always a corridor away.
Cazal has described this as music for “soundtracks for the reading, sleeping, dreaming or thinking listeners” – his blog is full of posts on nostalgic American baseball film, (The Natural), F Scott Fitzgerald, tailoring, Gary Cooper. Could The Lost Library function as some alternative soundtrack to the Jazz Age? Some slowed down parlour music, through the wrong end of a telescope?
The final two tracks here complete the circle – about half way into Chapter of the Tepuis, the clicks and loops of the opening track return at the edges of the stereo field, pulses adding a note of noirish tension, creeping up in the mix. The final five minutes or so of this track are also some of the most beautiful on the album, gradually subsiding, thinning out to set up Loops of Memory and Time – a perfect blend of calm and disquiet, spelled out in three minutes of gently swelling tones.
A beautiful album, then, that is always more than the sum of its simple parts, rewarding idle, as well as close listening. Recommended!
- John Boursnell for Fluid Radio