by Cocoon

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Most tracks of this album were composed in 2009-2010 for a drama production of Edward Bond's "The Children" by Bruno Lajara. Additional tracks were composed for a Concert for Dreamachines at Ososphère, Strasbourg, 2 October 2010. The album in its final version was played en avant-première for the opening of Cocoon's exhibition at Plateforme, Paris, 25 March 2011.

Music written and mixed by Christophe Demarthe
Mastering, In The Shade
Design & photography, Pascal Béjean & Nicolas Ledoux
Painting, Ary Scheffer, "The Dead Go Quickly"

Many thanks to Pascal Béjean, Pierre Beloüin, Guillaume Gesquière, In The Shade, Bruno Lajara, Nicolas Ledoux, Léa Lescure, Eva Vandest.

A Optical Sound production with the help of VIESAVIES

Optical Sound | OS.053 | 2012


"There are two Cocoons in France. One is a duo from Clermont-Ferrand that plays sunny, soporific indie folk. The other is the rather more tenebrous solo project of Christophe Demarthe, who also co-founded Cold Wave/Industrial group Clair Obscur right at the start of the 80s.

"I like the confusion between the two French Cocoons," he says. "Once I was even invited on a national TV show. I answered that I feared I was the wrong Cocoon, the dark side of the force of Cocoon, the Cocoon they would perhaps meet if they went out at night in Paris in some peculiar places..."

Like its two predecessors (an untitled debut and 2005's Violent Days Are To Come), new album III is an essay in atmospheric techno-minimalism, made using "my favourite plug-ins and these broken loops that populate a lot of my work." III is, if anything, even more pared-down than previous work but also sounds more cavernous, almost sepulchral, thanks partly to the interspersion of free-floating, nebulous pieces with more pulse-driven tracks. Demarthe describes it as an "aquatic and sort of sacred sound, linked to the circumstances of its gestation and a certain state of mind I was in."

These circumstances were varied, with the music originating in theatre productions, TV commissions and installations. "I'm lazy, I wait for things to come to me, I don't force them. Except when I'm commissioned to do something, obviously. That was the case with Edward Bond's 'The Children'. 'The Children' is a beautiful text by Edward Bond in which a child kills another child inadvertently, while carrying out a crime out of obedience to his mother. Bruno Lajara staged the play with a group of children aged between 11 and 16, from the Chemin Vert quarter in Boulogne-Sur-Mer, a 'zone sensible' ('sensitive area') as they say. What was interesting about this experience is that – contrary to my usual habits – I was writing as much based on my responses to the young actors as to the text. I was more interested in them than the theatrical production." The music on this third album is largely drawn from the Bond play but Demarthe is keen to specify that "the tracks were reconfigured and reworked so that they would tell their own story. Other tracks were written and added to finish this 38-minute story."

So there are also pieces that were designed for a festival, Ososphère, in Strasbourg that was being curated by Demarthe's label boss, Pierre Beloüin of Optical Sound. "He invited me to come up with a programme for a concert where the audience were sat in semi-darkness, facing several spinning dreamachines." (A dream machine is a strobing device invented by Ian Sommerville, an associate of William Burroughs.)

And there's also 'Meet', a sweeping and more sentimental coda to the album. "I originally wrote it for a sci-fi TV film and [it] had been kicking around for a few years, forsaken like an orphan. It was originally written for a scene in a film where characters reunite. The mood of the scene recalled Godard in Nouvelle Vague, so I wrote a track almost as an 'exercise de style', doing some Godard-style music (or more in the style of Michel Legrand since, according to Legrand, he conceived and suggested the idea to Godard of using musical waves that arrive to blot out moments of dialogue between two characters). I thought that 'Meet', with its waves that wash over you, was a nice conclusion to the album after these other… how can I say?... more tormented tracks."

Demarthe is not the only member of an 80s Cold Wave or Industrial group to end up on Optical Sound – Norscq, aka Jean-Louis Morgère of The Grief, has also made it his home and mastered the first two Cocoon albums – and in many ways the label serves the legacy of that era much better than more obvious Cold Wave revivalists, preserving a spirit rather than a specific sound. Demarthe says "Optical Sound is, above all, the work of a visual artist, who is a big fan of music, of a certain type of music. It's definitely a label but it's also just as much an aspect of Pierre Beloüin's artistic work. And the artists on the label have to be aware that they are part of this work. There are in some way subsumed into the ogre-ish vision of an insane artist-manager." In the 80s, though, Clair Obscur had little contact with their musical peers.

"We didn't listen to French groups apart from Marquis de Sade and Orchestre Rouge. We listened to Joy Division, Tuxedo Moon, Durutti Column, The Virgin Prunes, DAF, The Talking Heads, Psychic TV, The Cure… We went to the New Rose record shop in Paris and Gérald, our favourite shop assistant, helped us to discover other groups that were in line with our tastes. He didn't play us any French records (apart from maybe The Prophets). I didn't meet Norscq until 2004, through Pierre Beloüin. It's funny, there are a lot of French musicians from the Cold Wave/Industrial scene of the 1980s that I only met recently. We were quite insular in Clair Obscur. We sometimes went to clubs, like Rose Bonbon, Les Bains Douches, The Palace, but when we went out it was mostly to shut ourselves in our rehearsal rooms and play. It also sometimes happened that we would sometimes go on long treks to listen to a particular group, like the time we made a return trip from Paris to Cap Fréhel in Brittany to see Marquis de Sade and Orchestre Rouge in concert. We met some fishermen that were going to the concert before going out to sea, in terrible weather. We were still thinking of them when we returned to Paris at 5am when the market stalls were just being set up."

When I ask about artists who try to revisit the practices of that era, he says:

"What's the point of that? An artist like Tricky on his Nearly God album is much closer to Psychic TV than any revivalist musician today. The last group I listened to with some interest was Liars. What Psychic TV, Tricky and Liars have in common is that they're artists who explore, who experiment, who innovate. It's the only thing that counts. With Clair Obscur, it was the only thing that mattered to us."
David McKenna , February 24th, 2012

La musique de Cocoon n’existe pas. C’est un état, souvent critique, qui se diffuse dans l’espace, se contorsionne, s’alanguit, se replie ou se déploie. On ne la mémorise pas – elle joue dans l’instant. Elle est là. Le son, dépossédé des images d’un film imaginaire, prend possession de la salle et enveloppe le spectateur aveugle. La séance est en boucle. Le centre invisible de III provient d’une bande sonore écrite pour un projet The Children d’Edward Bond de Bruno Lajara – mais cela n’a pas d’importance car les morceaux ont leur propre existence, leur propre matière, leur propre géométrie – en mouvement. Pour les percevoir Cocoon aka Christophe Demarthe demande à l’auditeur de l’attention, voir de la concentration : celle d’une véritable écoute. Les constructions sont subtiles, les éléments ciselés et fonctionnent par rebonds, échos, apparitions, disparitions. Le travail est à l’intérieur, dans un parcours complexe qui s’étire en une expérimentation sophistiquée dont l’essence première est numérique mais qui s’évapore vers une musique plus savante, parfois classique toujours limpide – faussement glaçante, bercée de reflets éblouissants. On croit déceler des histoires : des micros fictions encapsulées dans la réalité de sons empruntés, volés et détournés mais l’utilisation d’infra-basses artificielles propulsent les pulsations cardiaques dans un corps digital et lointain – cérébral. Le temps est compressé, passé dans de mauvais logiciels… III travaille la lenteur, sculpte une douce torpeur… La répétition est rythmique, les effets à contre sens… On ne cherchera pas de début, ni de fin mais des instants, des pauses et des soufflements. Chacun y laissera une part de soi, une part d’ombre et de lumière, un clair obscur numérique qui appartient au présent, une sombre délicatesse évanouie dans un monde en résolution altérée et dont on ne sait s’il faut en revenir. Un flux et un reflux de mer au bord d’une plage abstraite, construite comme un décors que l’on peut, en une fraction de seconde, retourner et qui devient alors un ciel étoilé basse définition, syncopé. Un disque à écouter au calme, seul et dans la nuit ou au casque, face à un paysage accéléré pendant un voyage en train à grande vitesse. Un disque qui n’en est pas un car la musique de Cocoon n’existe pas…
P. Nicolas Ledoux, 2 janvier 2013

"Composé en majeure partie pour la pièce d'Edward Bond « The Children » (mise en scène par Bruno Lajara), ce troisième album du projet de Christophe Demarthe (Clair Obscur), explore des territoires plus hors le monde s'il était possible que sur les précédents opus. Onze plages tour à tour enveloppantes, inquiètes, hurlantes-fixes, crépitantes... tissées d'un lin sonore aussi savamment produit que celui entendu chez Alva Noto ou Pan Sonic, mais plus près du coeur sensible, de l'épiderme, la palpitation de la machine se confondant avec celle résonnant dans les veines. Expérimental certainement, Cocoon explore et soulève la surface visible, mais surtout sculpte à dessein pour attiser les sens, à l'aplomb de l'infime en grand architecte du vertige. Une fois encore le Massif-Central et la guitare en bois ne seront pas invités à ce funambulique festin pour les oreilles, Cocoon est bien autre chose, un lieu, un ailleurs où s'étendre cérébralement, où se projeter physiquement. Voyage immobile certes, voyage aussi vaste et prometteur pourtant que celui « Autour Ma Chambre » de Xavier De Maistre."
Stanislas C. | 25 septembre 2012

"Pour son troisième album solo, Christophe Demarthe a décidé de mettre l’accent sur le phénomène de vagues. L’élément aquatique y est omniprésent (« Swim », « Drown ») et le flux et reflux des nappes sonores, souvent teintées de mélancolie, encadrent ce périple qui s’appréhende telle une narration. Essentiellement composée de titres réalisés pour la pièce Les Enfants d’Edward Bond adaptée par Bruno Lajara, il s’agit peut-être de l’œuvre la plus sombre de Cocoon, où les rythmiques electro-industrielles (« Paint it black », « Emir », « Drown ») côtoient des boucles enchanteresses évoquant une beauté solennelle et religieuse (« Ninfa » ou le poignant « Bless », lequel pourrait presque rappeler certains passages du Antigone de Clair Obscur, projet principal de Christophe). Le minimalisme reste néanmoins toujours de rigueur sauf peut-être sur le dernier titre, « Meet », bande-son commandée pour un téléfilm de science fiction, qui lorgne définitivement du côté des B.O., et rend aussi hommage au Jean-Luc Godard de Nouvelle Vague. Les enfants de la pièce sont ici évoqués par une ritournelle digne d’un film d’horreur italien (« Ninetto ») ou par des chants étranges et effroyables (« Dietrich ») suggérant sans peine l’atmosphère de terreur, d’errance et de désolation du récit de Bond. D’autres morceaux sont en revanche extraits d’une installation faite pour le festival Ososphère à Strasbourg, mais sont eux aussi portés par les ondes océanes et une mystique noire. Dans ses dernières notes, le disque rappelle même l’onirisme romantique d’un Benjamin Lew en version digitalisée.
Sûrement l’album le plus homogène et cohérent de Cocoon jusqu’à présent."
Mäx Lachaud, 12 mars 2012


released February 1, 2012



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