Ex Voto..a votive offering to a saint or divinity..a perfect title for this, the latest offering from the wonderfully talented Christian Renou. Having made an uneasy transition from analogue to digital instrumentation and methodology, and dispensing with his former Brume nomenclature, Renou has yet again lived up to his reputation as one of the elder statesmen of the experimental scene, having emerged from the shadows of cassette culture more than 15 years ago. Never short on fresh ideas and inspiring works, Renou rarely fails to disappoint..there are very few upon whom I would bestow the status of “genius”, but Renou has to be one, alongside Andrew Mackenzie, Bernhard Gunther, and barely a handful of others who effortlessly combine oblique, leftfield ideas with compositional ingenuity and technical brilliance.
Renou’s releases have seen him carve out his own remarkable niche, walking a unique path that incorporates Musique Concret with minimalism, electro-acoustic composition, and an almost filmic soundtrack quality. Ex Voto sees Renou hard wiring his technically precise abstract sensibility into guitar and violin ambience, a whirlpool of elements that positively bristles with creativity, an expansive, atmospheric foray, a single work, that is split into numbered parts. This is more of a journey of discovery than a musical work, with microscopic sampled fragments being fused with conventional instrumentation, at times creating a tense, unsettling atmosphere that has come to characterise Renou’s signature techniques..creating moments of sublime beauty, that are suddenly severed by stark, almost frightening moments, that appear to breach all notions of reality, and transport the listener into an alien netherworld peopled by disembodied voices, and frenzied rhythms.
The ethereal refrains of “Amazing Grace” sung by Ilda von Gerart is subjected to Renou’s digital scalpel, and is warped ,stretched, and re-assembled into something totally un-nerving , with a dark beauty that is at once transcendent, yet utterly alien, one of the finest pieces of experimentalism that I’ve heard for a long time. This is composition handled by a master, and as with all Renou / Brume releases, comes with my highest recommendation. Absolutely essential. BGN