Esther Marie is the debut by Montreal’s Mains de Givre (“frost hands”), a duo comprising Eric Quach on guitar and electronics and violinist Ã‰milie Livernois-Desroches. Quach’s background is in shoegaze and ambient productions, while Livernois-Desroches’s is in classical; their respective sounds and approaches combine beautifully to produce gloomy neo-classical drones strongly reminiscent, in mood, of fellow Montreal-ers Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
Quach builds up the background, creating dense walls of tonal feedback over which Livernois-Desroches improvises, like an updated take on the violin sonata. She favours long, slow arcs aching with sadness, their strident lines well-suited to Quach’s whining grey hiss. The four long pieces take similar approaches, slowly unfolding patterns marked by adjustments in feedback timbre and varied instrumental figures. ‘Un Choeur d’Armes en Destresse’ opens with a circling guitar throb, cracking apart as the piece progresses, the violin dancing mournfully over its remains. In ‘Les Cercle des Moeurs’ Quach sculpts the feedback into an airy, buoyant twinkle, shimmering like stars beside lower, cello-like string patterns. The bleak squall of ‘Cauchmar Noir et Rouge’ evokes both Angelo Badalamenti and My Bloody Valentine, while closer ‘Larmes Sanglantes’ works a choppy loop into distorted noise, leaving the final, distraught notes to the lone violin.