Mathieu Ruhlmann & Celer – Mesoscaphe (Spekk)

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The Janus faced Mesoscaphe appears and turns away – a fitting testament to the submarine expedition after which it takes its name. The submarine – later bequeathed Ben Franklin – would carry six passengers in its womb through a stream from the Gulf of Mexico through to the Atlantic Ocean, endeavoring to suss out the untrammeled depths by conducting millions of pieces of acoustic, biological, and lighting experiments, only to be eclipsed by Apollo 11 and the subsequent moon landing that was happening around the same time.

The work shares the Mesoscaphe’s ambitious grandiloquence. Both Celer and Vancouver native Mathieu Ruhlmann are in top form; the former finds gorgeous, moving, vital, sensual music in the slipstreams while the latter is agile, probing, never settling. At nineteen minutes, the first piece floats through three currents: swift lines are first unreeled and linked strings of notes very effectively ride robust, sometimes rough, drones and ghostly theremin themes. Ruhlmann often stops one from being lulled into prenatal bliss, however, as he is often entirely at home in tilting relationships, unobtrusively but actively disrupting the proceedings, drawing other voices together or prompting them to move on. In the second stage, he does precisely this – pursuing implications, seizing and investigating what’s frayed or dislocated.

Finally, there is a tendency to clean up the sound and look for a sort of murky smoothness. In “The Melodies Of Our Heartbeats Slowing”, the group finds it – a beautiful swirl of Celer’s innate feel for tone poetry and Ruhlman’s expressive, frictional, and dramatic textures and scraping. This moment, as with others on the album, exudes a deep-seated melancholy and mysteriousness; its ailing admixture like the recombinant genesis of life after the extinction of all earthly matter.

Max Schaefer

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