3 out of 5
Label: Un Je-Ne-Sais-Quoi
Produced by: Rachel Langlais (recorded by)
A fascinating – occasionally beautiful, occasionally wonderfully damaged – set of piano experiments, Rachel Langlais’ 9-piece Dothe is moreso a work to be talked about and considered than necessarily listened to, but it’s a worthwhile conversation, and once had, you’ll likely find you’ve had the record playing on a loop the whole time.
The term ‘Dothe’ is taken from an Ursula K. Le Guin novel; Langlais’ album features suggestive track titles that map to her variously minimalist, drone, or atonal compositions, begging discussions on when melody becomes music; the difference between a sketch and a song; an experiment and something constructed for listening pleasure. To be frank, I’m not sure there’s much exclusively of the latter on the album, but that’s not to say Dothe sits fully in outsider art: Rachel’s works hit a blurry line between all of the above, morphing the treated piano into more organic or more electronic sounds, butting down-played thoughts into exploding ideas – such as when the minimalist Thangen becomes the affectionate, Pierre Bastien-esque dueling counter-melodies of Jogging à courre, or when Penché Percé slowly twists from something playful into something haunting.
Bastien is, perhaps, a good reference for the mix of live and programmed-seeming effects, but Pierre does tend towards more “complete” compositions; Dothe ultimately feels less like beginnings, middles, and endings, and more like fragments drifting into one another. That lends itself to a dreamy atmosphere, making Dothe perfect for either the conversations and contemplations suggested above, or as background to fuel thoughts of your own.