L’ocelle Mare | s/t (Sick Room)

cd_locelle.jpgTrack 7 shows what potential there was in Bonvalet’s original idea, with a gently plucked acoustic guitar backed only by the sound of pouring rain.

 

 

 

 

 

When trying to sell music that appeals to a small niche far outside of the mainstream, sometimes it pays to have an interesting story. Thomas Bonvalet, a former member of the avant garde French instrumental duo Cheval de Frise, cooked up a pretty interesting one for his debut under the moniker L’ocelle Mare: he traveled to 16 different deserted buildings across France in July of 2006, recording a song at each that intended to capture the spirit of the place in which it was recorded.

The results aren’t nearly as compelling as the story. Performed mostly on acoustic guitar with the occasional harmonica or percussion accent, the songs by and large amount to little more than instrumental noodling. Totaling only 24 minutes, these 16 untitled tracks are more snippets than songs, each one meandering with no seeming sense of purpose or melody. While the actual playing can occasionally be quite pretty—most notably the cascading fifth track, or the galloping Spanish-flavored guitar and maracas of the tenth—it is far more frequently unformed, chaotic, and messy, and many of the songs seem to burst in halfway through a thought, obliterating any sort of ebb and flow to the album as a unit. And to top it all off, three complete tracks (and a decent chunk of a fourth one) consist of nothing but silence.

Track 7 shows what potential there was in Bonvalet’s original idea, with a gently plucked acoustic guitar backed only by the sound of pouring rain. Moments of the album are cinematic in their execution, suggesting that if paired with film footage or, at the very least, extensive photography of the locations in the CD’s liner notes, the music could have served to evoke the mood of the places in question. But as presented, L’ocelle Mare is little more than a half-formed thought. D- | Jason Green

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