Volutes by SnowdropsRelease date: October 16, 2020
Label: Injazero Records
Christine Ott is a name that is probably familiar to fans of Tindersticks and Yann Tiersen, as the French pianist/composer has collaborated with both artists, among others. She is also known for one of the proponents of ondes Martenot, the instrument recently used to a great effect by Canadian composer Joshua van Tassel.
Here she is using all her talents, as Snowdrops, in collaboration with Mathieu Gabry, another French artist, coming up with their debut release, Volutes. They did have a previous appearance, composing the soundtrack for Phuttiphong Aroonpheng’s first feature Manta-Ray, which won the Lion Award for Best Film at the 2018 Venice Festival (Orizzonti).
On Volutes, like any other spiral form that is defined by the term, so do the duo form tonal spirals of piano and string instruments, including ondes Martenot sometimes embellished by subdued electronics, sometimes left on their own.
In either case, the effect is quite mesmerizing and inspiring. Even though the level of their tonal spirals remains in the realms of what can be generally termed as ‘calm’, Snowdrops easily escape two of the usual modern classical/post-classical traps. One is boredom, caused by over-repetition of patterns. The other is relying solely on the instrumental skills of participating musicians.
What Snowdrops come up with on Volutes is a set of nuanced musical images that keep shifting like one of those now almost forgotten kaleidoscope toys you look through, not repeating themselves at any point. Still, they are able to maintain the cohesiveness of their vision, incorporating all the musical knowledge they have, from classical to jazz and ambient.
These days, with people being bound to stay home for long periods of time, Snowdrops and their album Volutes might be one of the perfect ‘homestay’ soundtracks.