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Les Marquises: Lost Lost Lost

Named after a stately, late-period beauty of a song from Jacques Brel, Les Marquises is essentially producer/songwriter Jean-Sébastien Nouveau, assisted by a few musical associates including American vocalist Jordan Geiger (from Minus Story, Shearwater and Hospital Ships) and drummer Jonathan Grandcollot. It’s the first release on a new imprint, Lost Recordings, set up with the specific aim of releasing this album. 

‘Lost Lost Lost’ hovers in an interzone between folk songwriting and post-rock-y attention to sound-in-itself; it manages to be contemplative while also offering plenty of sound-work for the listener to contemplate. The six tracks hang on circular chord structures and jazzy, sometimes Can-like drum patterns; in each there is a slow swell of emotion that then abates before any definite crescendo is reached. Their distinctive character comes from the contrast between the intimacy of Geiger’s quietly pained and androgynous vocals (it’s as though he’s singing to himself; maybe he was since, according to Nouveau, this was an internet collaboration) and the expansive settings created by Nouveau. 
 
Based on that observation alone, it's possible the image of an island in the middle of a vast ocean would have suggested itself even if Nouveau had chosen a different name for the project, but thanks to that and the “On the sea, they are sailing now” lyric on ‘This Carnival of Light’, it’s difficult to avoid interpreting everything through sea-related metaphors. It’s in the overall character of the album – superficially calm, but also churning and restless – and the way the songs are encrusted with decayed-sounding details like barnacles clinging to a shipwreck. The keyboard tones that open ‘Comme Nous Brulons’, meanwhile, sound like distant blasts on a ship’s horn
 
There are plenty of other examples I could pick, but it’s probably best to move on now before I kill the idea; the point is that the layered mix, rich with half-buried (submerged…?) touches and textures, is beautifully panoramic and evocative. It encourages you not only to ‘gaze’ into the distance, but also to bring your own associations into the picture. Interestingly there’s a remix project planned, so we’ll get to hear what people like Olivier Mellano, Karaocake and Volcano the Bear have found in it.
 
David McKenna
 
www.myspace.com/lesmarquises