French Canadian artist Neige et Noirceur (literally: Snow and Darkness) indulges an artistic conceit on it’s new album, Bach – Preludium Minor that few can have considered who have gone before.
Seeking to find a link between their own sense of ambient black metal, Baroque composition and the paintings of the Flemish master Pieter Bruegel the Elder is surely an ambitious task to set oneself, yet over the course of the five compositions offered the artist does establish a sense of synchronicity between the themes in question. The fulcrum of the release, a sixteen minute reading of Invention 9 in F Minor (BWV 780) sees the vision of the artist come to the fullest fruition; Here the original piece is augmented by washes of ambient noise and disembodied voices with sheets of ‘normal’ twenty first century instrumentation (especially stark, stentorian black metal guitars) overlaid at juxtapositional angles to create a fullsome dissonance that the original composer could not possibly have envisaged at the time the piece was written in Germany in the early part of the eighteenth century. Here too is where the cover art selected – Bruegel’s The Misanthrope – would appear to compliment best the compositional aspects explored within the piece.
The three musicians engaged in moulding their musical will to the demands of the existing pieces do so with sympathy and a lightness of touch that may well come as a surprise to the uninitiated expecting a mere clumsy congress of old and new; at no time however does the new overwhelm the old or vice versa. Thus a truly new music is conceived and delivered.
As noted, the ambition demonstrated here by the artist is to be fully applauded; this attempt at synthesis between two seemingly disparate ages – let alone styles – can be seen to have worked, if not fully then certainly by enough to deem the exercise a success. Whether that success might warrant further investigation into similar musical co-existences is entirely in the gift of the artist and, perhaps, their patrons within the record company charged with this album’s release. The reviewer certainly wishes to register his hope that it will.
Preludium Minor is out now.