By Amanda Nordqvist
In the early spring of 2017, after being invited to spend two weeks in solitude at a composer’s retreat in Suffolk, London-based French composer Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch used the time to full extent and composed her sophomore album, Époques. After an extensive recording process, the album was just recently released on July 13th, via 130701 – it is an organic, honest look into the composer’s mind, filled with tracks that range from emotive solo piano to gently experimental, more ambient pieces.
Époques begins with the weightless Martello, where I can just see the notes of the eager piano sparkling in the air, ringing gently on and on, and moving effortlessly towards the next. Suddenly the second part of the piece unfolds, with a trembling, graceful trilling and a sense of urgency creeping closer. The subtle nuances of the piece and the perfect timing of the changing sensations make the track a grand opening and I am immediately swept away into full immersion.
Highly ambient, The Only Water echoes all around me, a step down into some darker place, with the shuddering of voices fading in and out of reach, bouncing off each other – strings like the sound of doom approaching. Redux feels dark, too, but in a wildly different way: it pulls at something deep within me, with its unfaltering melody, moving like a gentle breeze. There’s an honesty to the piece that tells of a self-awareness – it knows the darkness and it’s not afraid. The piece lulls into Overflow, with strings like surgical knives, cutting through the sudden tension in the air. Utterly in control, and with flawless precision, it evolves into something softer, gentler – braver.
The album takes a turn towards a more minimal approach, with looping and gentle building of tension, until it reaches the title track – with an absolutely mesmerizing rhythmic, this piece could easily stand on its own, the piano carrying such weight with such grace that it is mindboggling. The fearless transitions seem amazingly effortless and I can practically see the composer’s hands flying across the keys, at one with the glorious instrument. The album later ends on the slightly nerve-racking Morphee, with echoing, buzzing, swerving – it is completely overtaking, absorbing me into a deeper part of the world, where it then transforms into some hurt, unforgiving thing, absolutely bursting with emotion. One track is never just one track when it comes to Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch, and I feel like I am bursting with impressions as the album comes to a halt; exhausted and invigorated all at once, I am left with an endless awe for the composer and her unquestionable talent.