Excursions in acoustic music: Belle Arché Lou and Yadayn

Belle Arché Lou – Seeking Solace (Humanist Records)

The artist biography for Belle Arché Lou on the Humanist Records web site begins with an intriguing and seemingly obtuse question “How are French literary figure Guillaume Apollinaire and American astronomer Scott S. Sheppard – University of Hawaii graduate interested in the formation of solar systems – linked?”.  The answer it seems is found in the decomposition of the name of the band itself.

“Among the hellish atrocities of war, Apollinaire wrote some of the most emotional verses in the name of an almighty love and did not hesitate to compare the deadly shells to “wonderful suns ripening in space”. As for Sheppard, he discovers planets and hunts moons. Both men fight the same fate: things that are imposed whether militarily, socially or culturally. The poet fights the war and the astronomer fights the knowledge of the universe. They both make the world sublime or present new worlds through writing and discoveries, through poetry and science. They are connected by the fierce fire of transcendence and by their respective satellites ensuring the pursuit of essential trails against perdition. Apollinaire’s satellite is a woman, Louise de Coligny-Châtillon known as Lou, whom he loved unwisely. Sheppard’s satellite lies in secret stars, orbital moons he discovers – one of them being called J XLII ARCHE and more commonly known as Arché…Thus, Belle Arché Lou lives only to embody this truth. That beauty needs no words to exist, that vertical beauty triumphs over all, whether in the dirty trenches or in the frozen space of the milky way.”   

With such ambitious and grand inspiration, the surprise is not that the music of brotherly duo of Wesley and Alexis Paul is beautiful, but that it is so intimate and illuminated with introspective grace. At the core of each one of their songs is Alexis’ acoustic guitar and Wesley’s melodic percussion on vibraphone and glockenspiel. And if you are not under their spell within the first 30 seconds of ‘Dans la gueule du temps’, which opens their newest album Seeking Solace, you are made of stronger stuff than me.

To break this utterly lovely EP down much further would do a disservice to it’s unadorned elegance. Just know that it features plaintive melodies and delightful arrangements along with some very nicely placed guest performances, a vocal by Benoît Pioulard on ‘Make Haste’ and a performance on doudouk by Hraïr Hratchian on ‘Solace’.  Other than that, I would only urge you to listen and enjoy the sunlit and soothing sounds on this record and experience the joy for yourself.

Seeking Solace is available for purchase as a download on the Belle Arché Lou Bandcamp (note that their earlier releases Pura Vida! and Les avalanches tombées du ciel are free downloads). Physical copies can be purchased from the Humanist Records online shop.

Order Seeking Solace from the Humanist Records online shop

Download Seeking Solace from the Belle Arché Lou Bandcamp

Listen to ‘Dans la gueule du temps’ from Seeking Solace 

Watch Belle Arché Lou perform ‘Pour Détruire le Chagrin du Monde’ from Pure Vida

 

Yadayn – Vloed (Navalorama Records)

Yadayn is the solo project of Belgian guitarist Gowaart Van Den Bossche who also records with the neoclassical group Zura Zaj.  The name, which is Arabic for “two hands”, embodies his approach which is to “create a body of work that could strand unaccompanied, just guitars and a pair of hands to play them and a sparsely used loop pedal to create some ensemble illusion”.

Van Den Bossche embarked on this project in 2011, but it took several years to compile, refine, and release the body of work that is Vloed .  The album is a blend of pure classical elements and the abstract, evocative finger picking style of more experimental guitarists such as Robbie Basho and the result is both compelling and mesmerizing.

Yadayn unfurls his canvas with ‘eb’, the only short track on the record and the only one that does not feature unadorned guitar.  It essentially sets the backdrop and prepares the auditory palate for what is to come, the rich tones and articulate picking of ‘the night is long that never finds the day’.  After two more fine pieces of moderate length, ‘quilt’ and ‘zucht’, we arrive at the title track which is really the showpiece of the album, a sprawling 12 minute guitar opus that eventually slow boils into an intense pedal driven conclusion.  The pattern repeats with ‘sluimer’ which begins in a contemplative mood, but ends in an uneasy haze of pedal driven distortion.

Vloed is quite a rich and rewarding sonic journey and is likely to appeal to both conventional aficionados of classical & acoustic guitar as well as fans of guitar in ambient and experimental music.  It is both soothing and invigorating, beautifully composed and skillfully performed. I am very much looking forward to future releases from Van Den Bossche both as Yadayn and with Zura Zaj.

Vloed is available as a digital download on the Yadayn Bandcamp and in a limited run of 150 hand numbered CDs in recycled white kraft gatefold digisleeve with printed inserts from Navalorama Records.

Order Vloed CDs from Navalorama 

Download Vloed from the Yadayn Bandcamp

Read “7 Questions with Goward aka Yadayn” in this interview by Thomas Mathie (Headphonaught)

Listen to the title track from Vloed:

 

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