Saåad are known for their prowess in using drone music as a palette for fulfilling their innovative approach. In the past, they successfully experimented with recording using webcam microphones (on 2011’s “Delayed Summer”) or with use of a stripped-back section of horns positioned in a valley at the foot of the Alps (on 2014’s “Deep/Float”). On “Verdaillon” they exploited an opportunity to compose and record in the Touloulsian Church of Notre-Dame de la Dalbade. What makes this record so exceptional is the revolutionary use of massive Puget pipe organs hailing from 1888.
RELEASE DATE: 15 September 2016 LABEL: In Paradisum
Albums like “Verdaillon” are hard to specify. The record sounds like it had been created in a “no-space”—an area not found on any maps, nor bound by any worldly regulations. It’s almost as if Barbot and Buffier made the Church of Notre-Dame de la Dalbade their own space for the two days of the recording process. The only reminder of the religious purpose of the building is the recording of bells tolling at the beginning of “Incarnat III: The Invisible Steeple”.
The very way Barbot and Buffier play is also worth noting. They exploit the possibilities of their instruments which go way beyond simple playing. That’s why we hear tapping and hitting, which give a slow, menacing groove to tracks like Eternal Grow or Incarnate II: 1888. But the duo didn’t limit themselves to the organs only. They managed to use the entire church with its incredible Renaissance acoustics as a tool to craft a sense of overpowering ambience.
The sacrum of the organs disappears on “Verdaillon” – the only time we get to listen to the instrument sounding in a way we are used to is on the closing track “Vorde”. While the rest of the album successfully rediscovers the Puget organ, “Vorde” is a sort of homage to a magnificent instrument which Saaad had a chance to explore.
The whole album feels very organic. There is also something primordial about it. To me it’s an expression of people’s primitive instincts, which managed to brew slowly despite being trampled by civilization. The sounds of the organ depict a darker, more violent side of human nature, which can be found even within the walls of a church. But this is also a sound of pushing boundaries forward and basking in the light of a new discovery. And to be honest, it is not pretty at all, but there is beauty in its truth.
The omnipresent, almost oppressive music expresses the notion that the same tools which are used to regulate societies by rules and principles of religious systems can be used to describe the state of nature, a condition in which the shackles of civilization and governance are torn apart. Anything made by a human can be used in a completely opposite way to its original purpose. Anything can become dark and sinister. Yet anything can also be re-imagined, rediscovered and experimented with. With its merge of sacrum and profanum, “Verdaillon” is the best illustration of that.