Arandel’s new album ‘InBach’
© Photo: Julien Mignot. Artwork: Gol3m
Bach/Mendelssohn, Bach/Liszt, Bach/Busoni, Play Bach and now ‘InBach’ – the latest in a long line of reinterpretations and explorations of the German composer’s compositions.
Arandel’s new opus, InBach, released 24th January 2020 by French label InFiné, pays a poetic, infinitely respectful and innovative homage to Bach’s sacred workings. Born out of a proposal by the Musée de la Musique, Paris to create an original 30-minute performance as part of the 30th Nuit Blanche Festival in 2017, the aim was to highlight the rich collection of recordings produced by the Musée and to surround and illuminate the extraordinary but often hibernating instruments housed in the museum with vivid, contemporary music.
A few months later, Arandel participated in the ‘Bach Marathon’ at the Cite de la Musique Hall, Paris with his hybrid live performance/DJ set ‘Switched on Bach’, named in acknowledgement to the legendary 1968 Grammy Award winning album by American composer Wendy Carlos (Tron, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining). In an era, rife with revolution, Carlos’ album had introduced the world to Bach’s pieces, down to every last note, interpreted exclusively on the Moog synthesizer. A source of inspiration for Arandel who, reinterpreted, revisited, remixed, recomposed, and rearranged the master’s pieces. A suggestion that shows that, had he been alive in the 20th century, Bach would have likely composed for synthesizers, perhaps even championing the Moog.
From candles to LEDs, from DJ sets to museums, from historical instruments to machines, from Bach’s themes that have entered the collective unconscious and inspired contemporary flesh and blood musicians… ‘InBach’ was a foregone conclusion.
There is an obvious offbeat and idiosyncratic feel to the record which recalls salon culture from the Renaissance and the French musical tradition of the chanson. From the rhythmic elevations of ‘Passacaglia’ (based on Passacaglia in C minor, BWV 582) to the symphonic progressions and choral workings of ‘Aux Vaisseaux’ (based on 14 Canons On the Goldberg Ground, BWV 1087) and electronic weirdness of the Air-like ‘Hysope’ (based on Erbarm’ Dich Main, O Herre Gott, BWV 721), ’InBach’ pays a powerful tribute to Bach’s work and imagination, celebrating a tutelary figure of music’s heritage, both old and new.
The album was recorded in large part with the extraordinary instruments from the Musée’s collection: viola da gamba, Erard square piano, clavichord, ondioline, Zach’s cello, Müller’s expressive organ, Stroh violins… rare, sometimes bizarre instruments of which even Bach didn’t know the existence – not to mention the plethora of Korg Minilogue, Korg Monotron or Moog Slim Phatty that complete the pandora’s box.
Arandel released his debut album ‘In D’ in 2010, and is considered by many to be an experimental classic. Loved by music collectors, DJs, and sample diggers alike, the release was a nod to the American composer and musician Terry Riley and received critical acclaim from the likes of The Wire, XLR8R, The Line of Best Fit and Finders Keepers’, Andy Votel. Four more studio albums followed; ‘Solarispellis’ (2014), ‘Umbrapellis’ (2015), ‘Extrapellis’ (2016) and ‘Aleae’ (2017) and Arandel also received blog success with his 2016 ‘Electronic Ladyland’ mixtape which focused on pioneers in electronic music and featured Suzanne Ciani and Wendy Carlos.
Not content wandering through an Ali Baba’s Cave of musical treasures, Arandel has invited artists from different universes and backgrounds to join him in his exploration. Guests who each bring their extreme musicality, sensibility/sensitivity, and faith in the project include classic pianist Vanessa Wagner, DJ and composer Flore, classical soloist Thomas Bloch, singer/songwriter Barbara Carlotti, cellist Gaspar Claus, guitarist Sébastien Martel, singer, comedian and composer Areski, pianist Wilhem Latchoumia, Ben Shemie – singer and guitarist of Montreal alt-rock unit Suuns, singer Petra Haden and folk singer and harpist Emmanuelle Parrenin.
In the immensity of Bach’s oeuvre, in the company of his fellow wanderers, within the constraints of historical instruments, emboldened by the delightful, sometimes technically dangerous friction between acoustics and electronics: Without a net, Arandel walks a tightrope without a faux pas.