One year after طرب TARAB, French Paris-based collective Oiseaux-Tempête (Frédéric D. Oberland, Stéphane Pigneul) recently released a new album. From Somewhere Invisible is out now via Sub Rosa. It features G.W.Sok (vocals), Mondkopf (analog synths, electric guitar), Jessica Moss (electric violin), Radwan Ghazi Moumneh (electric buzuk, modular system), and Jean-Michel Pirès (acoustic & processed drums, percussion & bells ).
Tomorrow, we will have the pleasure to see them live in Utrecht for Le Guess Who? Festival and they are also part of the lineup of Transmissions Festival in Ravenna (Italy) where they will play a show on November 22nd. We had a nice talk with them about the new album, live shows, experimentation in music and much more. Check it below.
Let’s Start from the new album “From Somewhere Invisible”. What was the path of this work and the creative process? And what was different compared to previous albums?
Frédéric : The starting point was some invitation by Radwan Ghazi Moumneh from the duo Jerusalem In My Heart. He wanted to record and produce some new album from Oiseaux-Tempête at Hotel2Tango the mythical studio recording he’s co-running in Montreal. After the releases of AL-‘AN (207) and the live album TARAB (2018), we had no idea at all about an upcoming Oiseaux-Tempête album. But we decided to say “yes” to this lovely invitation and jumped into the adventure. We recorded almost everything in free-improvisation with a core team including various regular collaborators like electronic producer Mondkopf, spoken-word maestro G.W.Sok and solid drumming by Jean-Michel Pirès ; we invited Jessica Moss to perform some electric violin with us and Radwan as well added his buzuk and modular synths to the whole. Back home we’ve listened to and edited these tapes to give shape to song-like tracks, eventually adding few other arrangements and extra recordings. We came back in Montreal with Stéphane almost one year after after to mix the result with Radwan. It is always hard to describe your own music, but I guess “From Somewhere Invisible” is the most dense and compact album we’ve realeased so far.
Stephane : The main difference was we were not really prepared for this one as we were just supposed to tour in canada for a fistful of shows with Radwan and the Suuns. But just before leaving Paris, he asked he we were up to record something together after the shows in his studio Hotel2Tango. But the creation path was the same as usual, as we just improvised all together in the same room. The difference was we were all here, Jos aka GW SOK sang directly in Montreal for most of the tracks and chose the right poems on its own. Our goal, as always, is to find the right balance in the room, with sounds and equipment and gear and all that stuff. Like kids in the woods, just happy to play together, and following the leads of evidence that everyone try to summon. We just listen to the whispering of everyone and try afterward to shape the tracks and the whole record into something coherent.
What do you mean with the title “From Somewhere Invisible”?
Frédéric : Theses words are extracted from the last poem narrated by Jos aka G.W.Sok on the album : “The Naming Of A Crow” by Chinese writer Yu Jan. I gues this “invisible” thing is the place from where we are speaking ; some free and collective space where the improvised creative process could become, beyond frontiers and differences, magical and -why not?- universal. In this fucked-up nightmarish neo-capitalistic world runned by an handful bunch of fools, we definitely need to share together something else than goods, fears or gods. That’s at least some human and artistic adventure that we cherish.
How is born the collaboration with Radwan Ghazi Moumneh (Jerusalem In My Heart)?
Frédéric : We met Radwan when we were in Beirut in 2016 to record our album AL-‘AN! with few musicians from the local scene (Two Or The Dragon, Charbel Haber, Sharif Sehnaoui…). Later, he came in touch with us as he was listening to the album, with a lovely message telling us how much he was touched by our work about his heart town. He invited us to tour together in Europe alongside Jerusalem In My Heart and to participate at Le Guess Who? under his curation. That was some blissful moments, we became friends. Back home he proposed us to support him and Suuns for two Canadian shows in Montreal and Toronto and he also booked two days of studio for the band. Knowing how Oiseaux-Tempête sounded live, he wanted to produce an album of us, both using the live improvisation process and the possibility to polish the sound of each instrument.
Artwork is very powerful. How did you choose it?
Frédéric : By intuition really. In this case, after having worked with Stéphane Charpentier, Yusuf Sevincli, As Human Pattern and also sometimes using some of my photographic work, we had some stunning epiphany as we were confronting the B&W pictures of Damien Daufresne (for the outside of our album) with the technicolor photographs of Gaël Bonnefon (for the inside). We felt a powerful connection between their images and the music and texts including in the album. Both Damien and Gaël are amazing artists and part of the Temps Zero collective.
Visual part had always a great role for your project. I’m impressed from the new video of “He Is Afraid and So Am I”. What can you tell about the clip and the song?
Frédéric : This is some work by our dear friends and collaborators As Human Pattern (aka Grégoire Orio & Grégoire Couvert). Listening to this track and to this album, they wanted to use some family found footage from North America during the post-war boom (this famous beginning of the last industrial revolution) to create a correlation with our nowadays world. They made a stunning job and just directed a brand new one for the closing track “Out Of Sight”.
I’m very interested to the connection between the places we live over the years, the territorial geography of our roots and the art. You are from France but you traveled a lot between Meditteranean Sea. How do you feel these theme connected to your music, your way to think music? What are your favorite places?
Frédéric : While living in Paris, we made these last years 5 albums around the Meditteranean Sea if you include Unworks & Rarities and the live TARAB, travelling into Greece, Italy, Turkey, Lebanon. We went also recently to Tunisia to perform at Sailing Stones festival and to work on the soundtrack of the next full-length Ala Eddine Slim’s film. I guess the Mediterranean sea is sharing all over some deep roots and inner philosophy from Europe to Middle-East and Africa. That’s insane how many things in common you can find here and there, beyond frontiers, established states or religions. For food as for habits, for cultures as for traditional music in a way… I could say Sicily, Napoli, Istanbul, Beirut, Thessaloniki are some places I’m just feeling home.
Stephane : Maybe because all those incredible countries were or are at the point to just crack down before or now. It was like an echoe , a reflection of the bells everyone could hear across the world. I was living in Catania for almost a year, so i could feel this, beautiful places just corrupted by political choices, ecological disaster. A real waste. But at the same time, a fantastic appetite for life and joy and places were you can have the time . Everything is like in slow motion, so you can take the time you need.
How much important is experimentation for your work? What is your way to give new shape to your sound and what is your concept of experimentation in music and art?
Frédéric : Experimentation is a game. As musicians we do are like crazy kids playing and messing around. That’s our way to find inspiration and magic.
You will play some live shows to introduce the new album. We will have the honour to see you in Utrecht at Le Guess Who? And in Ravenna for Transmissions Festival. What kind of shows we can expect from you?
Frédéric : Some wild orchestra shouting loudness and silence.
Stephane : We tried to work as much as we could to provide good versions of the new tracks
Ritual question. What are the best releases you recently appreciated?
Frédéric : “Scattered Memories” by Saba Alizadeh, “Time We Left This World Today” by Monfkopf, “Intemporel” by Sarah Davachi & Ariel Kalma.
Stephane : « Lifelike » by FACS and « Double Negative » by Low