ô lake is the moniker of French composer Sylvain Texier. After many years as the band Fragments, Sylvain decided he wanted to return to instrumental compositions and this delicate piano based album is a delight for the early morning sunrise.
Often the piano music I enjoy has an innate sadness to it but with ô lake, in many ways its the opposite. Opening with ‘Refuge’, the title track we have simple but uplifting call and responses between piano and string as a bustling reversed ambience slowly bleeds in. It’s like the refuge is the endpoint and we’re now bursting back through time to ride the journey to that point.
‘Reveries Op.1’ gives us up close intimate piano where the mics pick up all the hammers and velvety cloth sounds. Over the top of the melody echoing twinkles ring out like bells. ‘Portrait of Solitude’ takes a ticking clock percussive loop and runs a lovely piano melody over the top. It’s with ‘Holocene’ that things take a sonic shift with rumbling drums and gentle synths that merge with strings and piano to rouse your spirits. It’s like someone took a sci-fi soundtrack but made it with acoustic folk instruments. I loved the tone of it but aside from the cinematic and dramatic closing track ‘Epilogue’ this side of the album doesn’t return.
Instead, ô lake focuses more of the intimate and uplifting interplay of minimal strings and subtle electronica to hide behind the piano. ‘Morning’, ‘Conversation’ and in particular ‘November 17th’ all have a beautiful longing to them. They feel full to bursting with warmth and emotion whilst still feeling grounded and snuggly. ‘Silhouettes’, ‘Interlude’ and ‘The Leftovers’ are much calmer and thoughtful in their delivery. They still don’t feel saddened – they are just more gentile.
‘Refuge’ is an interesting album as its clear Texier can apply his craft to several different versions of himself. If you came for the more cinematic and dramatic side of things, you may be miffed that the album steers clear from the obvious cinematic tropes. However, if you came here looking for lush piano based melodies that are as pristine as the dawns early morning – you’ll lap up every piece.
Recommended track: November 17th
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