La Tène’s long, hypnotic, wordless pieces are built from traditional folk instrumentation, wild percussion and blurred, subtle electronic embellishments, and feel as ancient and earthy as those millennia-old artefacts – with all the metal, wood, dedication and craftsmanship they entailed.
As on their previous release Abandonnée / Maleja, a double set running to over 80 minutes, Cyril Bondi, Alexis Degrenier and Laurent Peter expand to seven members in total. Cohorts Jacques Puech (cabrette – a small bagpipe associated with the Auvergne region of France), Louis Jacques (cabrette and a larger, 23” bagpipe), Guilhem Lacroux (12-string guitar) and Jérémie Sauvage (bass) each return to add colour, layers and intrigue.
Ecorcha/Taillée was recorded in a barn converted into a ballroom and cultural centre which exists to promote the folk music of region Auvergne. Both L’Ecorcha (eighteen and a half minutes long) and La Taillée (just under a quarter of an hour, brevity by this group’s standards) were recorded live and what you hear is a single take, with no editing after the fact.
L’Ecorcha goes into space with simple, minimal tools. Beginning with a single, doomy chord circling in perpetuity and a metallic shaker by way of rhythm, a drone of unspecified provenance is joined a little under halfway through by Alexis’ hurdy-gurdy, adding bucolic buoyancy while Laurent uses the wooden surface of his harmonium as an extra percussive source. La Taillée is spikier, danceable even thanks thanks to Cyril’s insistent drumming and the harmonium and hurdy-gurdy moving in a glorious lockstep. If you were to think of the relationship between Lou Reed’s guitar and John Cale’s violin while taking in La Taillée, you wouldn’t be OTT by any means.
Inspirations, soundalikes and kindred spirits are elusive and fleeting in the case of La Tène. There are a couple specific to Ecorcha/Taillée, both brought to the table by Alexis : a Christian song titled La Passion, collected in 1883 by French folklorist Félix Arnaudin, and a reggaeton hit single from 2022, Saoko by Spanish star Rosalía. La Taillée adapts its crunchy central riff in La Tène’s own image. It’s that link between the past and the future that also rings out in the music of La Tène.
Alexis Degrenier : Amplified Hurdy-Gurdy – Vielle À Roue Amplifiée
Cyril Bondi : Percussions – Percussions
D’Incise : Indian Harmonium, Electronic, Percussions – Harmonium Indien, Electronique, Percussions
Jacques Puech : Cabrette – Cabrette
Louis Jacques : Cabrette, 23 » Bagpipe – Cabrette, Cornemuse 23 »
Guilhem Lacroux: 12 Strings Guitar – Guitare 12 Cordes
Jérémie Sauvage: Electric Bass – Basse Electrique