Secret of Elements – New album/OST ‘Rebuilding Notre-Dame’
Tasked with writing the music for Rebuilding Notre-Dame, one of the decade’s most ambitious documentaries on architecture, German composer Secret of Elements marvels at the images of the reconstruction of the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Combining a nod to sacred music and technical modernity, his score accompanies the luminous rebirth of one of the most grandiose buildings in European history.
The work was re-arranged by label-mate Frieder Nagel, mastered by Rashad Becker, and sequenced from more than three hours of material accompanying three episodes of the series produced by Arte. The soundtrack feeds as much on the precious German electronic music workmanship as it does the grandiosity of a monument of Christian culture unique in Europe and constitutes a work worthy of a new album from the Rostock composer.
Through the beauty of its movements and diversity alone, Secret of Elements’ score is capable of conjuring up the deepest images of this disaster, tragedy, and cultural heartbreak. Visions of flames tearing through one of the world’s most iconic architectural masterpieces loop in slow motion as modern synthesis, sacred choral music, and magnificent organ work rise together toward the heavens.
For Paetzold (Secret of Elements), it all began with a “foundational” piece written in honour of the cathedral, “I tried to experience the pain felt by the people and Notre-Dame itself. Adagio for Notre Dame is both a choral piece and an organ theme, showcasing musically the building’s majesty with respect and sensitivity.” It took Paetzold three months to compose the first draft. But the composer needed this cornerstone on which the whole building rested in his mind before moving forward with the writing of the rest of the themes of the documentary. “This is my personal offering to Notre Dame” he admits almost respectfully.
The sound of a Notre-Dame bell called “Gabriel” features prominently in the piece. This sample would later be reworked until it became a drone-like layer that is embedded with evidence in all the tracks of the documentary. “I have a Christian upbringing but I’m not a churchgoer. I had a very complicated phase when I started working on the documentary. I was sleeping very badly. Ideas were not coming through and I had the impression that mysterious forms were trying to distract me from the cathedral. I needed an angel to give me direction.”
Each of the episodes is focused on three different damaged parts and material elements that comprise the uniqueness of the cathedral—wood; glass; stone. Composed in parallel to the production of the documentary, as experts, scientists, and craftspeople discovered the secrets of the cathedral’s construction and confront the puzzle of its renovation, this soundtrack solves its own musical dilemmas, combining the luminous spirituality of organic sounds and choir, with the pragmatic mechanism of modern sound generation.
The 3 episodes of ‘Rebuilding Notre Dame’ (“Notre-Dame: le chantier du siècle”) will be broadcasted on March 4 on the French-German channel ARTE and on arte.tv
Directed by Vincent Amouroux produced by ZED
Full available available March 10th on digital