Title - 'The Empty Room'
Artist - Frédéric L’Épée
For those not in the know, Frédéric L’Épée is a French guitarist and composer who is best known for founding the progressive rock band Shylock in 1974 (gathered again since 2012), the guitar band Philharmonie in 1988, the instrumental quartet Yang in 2002, and the acoustic rock band Lobotonics in 2008.
L’Épée is also a solo performer, a contemporary composer, and takes part in several collective projects (e-werk, Steppe Scape).
L’Épée has made nine solo albums so far, all of them available for download on Bandcamp, with his latest the expertly created The Empty Room is out now via L’Épée/Yang Music.
1. 'Badong' (07:00)
2. 'Inévitable Traversée' (04:23)
3. 'Descending the Slow River' (06:28)
4. 'Amour et dissolution' (3:32)
5. 'Delta' (08:22)
6. 'Hymne aux Ancêtres 1' (3:15)
7. 'Treasured Wounds' (06:48)
8. 'Mist' (04:50)
9. 'Parle-moi Encore' (06:40)
10. 'Souvenirs de Traversée' (5:40)
11. 'Hymne aux Ancêtres 2' (2:04)
12. 'Wegschippernd' (1:03)
On this ninth solo album - which is also the very first one to become pressed to CD - L’Épée brings forth a state of mourning; albeit one that musically is not sad.
More a questioning of loss, about letting go or the handling of internal pain, the tracks "talk" about how, after time, grief can turn into a vessel of serenity and peace.
From the opening track 'Badong' you are transported into a whole new and exciting world, freefalling one minute, flying high the next under the expert guidance of L’Épée.
The beautiful, dulcet 'Inévitable Traversée' (aka 'unavoidable crossing') is as poetically lush an instrumental as I think I've heard in the past decade and is backed by the sterner 'Descending the Slow River' (aka 'en descendant la rivière lente').
Though we all have to face it one day or another, the process is different for each of us with regard L’Épée's centralized theme, but here on The Empty Room his personal previews of human inner turmoil are, at once, both transfixing and yet tangible.
Both 'Amour et dissolution' and the pert (and longest track on the album at just over eight minutes) 'Delta' are perfect mid-point partners and they are followed by the stoic heartbeat of 'Hymne aux Ancêtres 1.'
L’Épée started to compose this new album some nine years ago during one of the most painful periods of his life with the next track 'Treasured Wounds' (aka blessures précieuses') directly linked to that time.
Since then, each year has brought the loss of someone close to him and so with what he already had to emotional deal with still raw inside him, L’Épée soon found himself taking on the tangible burdens of others.
Ergo, all that and more is reflected in the next track 'Mist' (aka 'brume') which comes across as a heartache siren learning to slowly embrace the euphoric understanding of grief as a whole.
L’Épée's plaintive piano work is brought to the fore next on the stark, but emotive 'Parle-moi Encore' (aka 'keep talking to me') which he backs seamlessly with the upbeat wonderment of 'Souvenirs de Traversée' (aka 'memories of crossing').
The album then comes to a close with two shorter tracks. The first, 'Hymne aux Ancêtres 2' is a guttural expression found within us all at any low moment of hardship and loss.
The second, 'Wegschippernd' (aka 'Sailing Away - Voguant au Loin') even at being just over a minute long inclusive of both yearning and understanding in equal measures.
Official Digital/CD Purchase Link