Ravage Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch
- 3Fata Morgana05:06
- 4An Easy Passage01:56
- 6The Universe Within You04:34
- 10Parting Gift03:53
- 11Ravage (solo piano edit)05:34
- 12Katabasis (solo piano edit)03:31
Info for Ravage
Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch returns with a brilliant third album.. Ravage is the London-based French pianist/composer’s first standalone album since 2018’s Époques, following which she has been busy building a name for herself scoring an increasingly high-profile series of films. A powerful, deeply personal album that charts the process of grieving for a parent, Emilie describes Ravage as “the most intimate and personal project I’ve created”.
Recorded largely at home in London over the lockdown in winter of 2020/21, the piano parts were recorded at Love Electric in April 2021 on a Bosendorfer Imperial. It was mixed at Spitfire Studios and mastered by Rafael Anton Irisarri. Unlike her previous albums, both of which featured string parts performed by soloists from the London Contemporary Orchestra, the entirety of the music this time around is Emilie’s work alone. “In part due to the subject of the album, I decided to play everything on this record myself”, she notes. “Being produced during the lockdown, it made sense to be as independent and nimble as possible.”
The composition process began in 2018 with the album’s title track, which Emilie felt compelled to write during a period of intense grief after losing her father. “It was a way for me to express and process the emotions I was going through, especially as I found it impossible to verbalise, or even tell people. It felt a rather solitary experience because we rarely talk about the loss of a parent with whom one had a fraught relationship, and those extremely layered and complex feelings toward that parent can be hard to explain.”
That slippery emotional complexity is rendered palpable across an album that side-steps the traps of cliché to deliver a roller coaster set where feelings appear in a state of flux. “I wasn’t looking for a universal pattern or ‘5 stages of grief’, but at how loss is experienced on an individual level”, Emilie explains. “It’s looking at an event that is so banal and yet cataclysmic, at how thoroughly unprepared we are for something almost all of us will experience, but also at how the loss of someone might help us understand them, remove any tension or resentment, and help us see their fragility.”
Reading numerous literary accounts of grieving, Emilie was inspired by artist Taryn Simon’s piece An Occupation of Loss, which featured professional mourners from around the world and the public performance of grief. This informed the way she used her voice to help create the album’s drones and textures. “I see Ravage as a mourning diary – it’s intimate, ritualistic in the sense that some of the methods used are sometimes more to do with their symbolic meaning than with the resulting sound.” Her voice was recorded via contact microphones applied directly onto her throat or chest to try and capture an interiority in the sound, the personal experience of a mourning sound rather than its public expression. Another touchstone was Latvian parapsychologist Konstantins Raudive’s mid-’60s study of Electronic Voice Phenomenon – finding spirit voices embedded in electronic recordings. On ‘Fata Morgana’ a short passage from her father’s correspondence was weaved into the track, manipulated and filtered to the limit of legibility, “making you feel you could almost grasp its meaning without ever being fully able to.”
From start to finish, Ravage has a strong, considered narrative flow that bears witness to Emilie’s skill-sets as both a pianist and sculptor of sound. Ditching strings for synths and far more drone-heavy than before, it sees a bold coalescence of acoustic and digital sources, of the arranged/processed and the performed. With much movement both across the album and within tracks themselves, richly textured and layered sound pieces are interspersed between, and seep within, Emilie’s forceful yet fluid, emotive piano playing.
A resonant, powerful excavation of the grieving process that sidesteps clichéd tropes to probe the full depths and complex spectrum of human emotion, Ravage is surely Emilie’s most ambitious and fully-realised album to date. Set apart from the swathes of contemporary classical pianists by the boldness and bite of her sound design, whilst adding an intricate, emotive instrumental performance missing from much sound art, she is steadily carving out a niche for herself as a composer with a singular sound and vision. Following in the footsteps of recent adventurous composers like Johann Johannsson, Mica Levi and Hildur Gudnadottir, Emilie looks set to break through as another hugely talented artist combining roles as composer for both film and her own wonderful music.
Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch, piano
is an award-winning French pianist/ composer currently living in London. Spanning film score, bespoke composition and sound design, her work is connected both by its high quality and its evocative, meticulous craft – a common sensibility of elegant, instinctual composition. Signed by FatCat’s post-classical imprint 130701 following a well-received demo in 2014, Levienaise-Farrouch’s debut album, ‘Like Water Through the Sand’ was released on 130701 in November 2015.
Born in Paris, Emilie moved to Bordeaux at a young age and studied classical piano throughout her childhood. She recalls Mozart or Beethoven blasting out of her mother’s hi-fi every Sunday; a love of French pop singers, most of whom were pianists; as well as Kate Bush. As a teenager, her first musical love was aged 13 when Bjork’s ‘Homogenic’ came out, which she listened to obsessively. Recognising a strong early interest in “making up music rather than just fixating over perfectly playing other people’s,” her first experiments in recording began as a teen, buying a basic soundcard for her computer and some cheap microphones.
Convinced of her vocation, in 2006 Emilie moved from Bordeaux to London to embark first on a BA in music at Westminster University, then a Masters degree in composition at Goldsmiths, with a primary focus on contemporary classical music, from new complexity to spectral composition. Alongside these studies, Emilie worked for three years at online electronic store Bleep, gaining enlightening exposure to a vast range of weird and wonderful new music. New influences like Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto, Richard Skelton, Andy Stott and LFO were added to existing ones in Bach, Debussy and soundtracks by Clint Mansell and Carter Burwell.
Having scored her first feature-length film in 2012 (on American-Iranian director Caveh Zahedi’s ‘The Sheik and I’, a film subsequently banned for blasphemy, its director threatened with arrest and a fatwa), her CV now includes commissions for the V&A Museum (London), HBO short film ‘Love NY’, and for drama / documentaries on BBC Radio 4, The Guardian, Funny or Die. In 2013 she received the Emerging Excellence Award from the Musician Benevolent Fund, and in 2015 was commissioned to create a sound-walk for London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Entitled ‘The Flaneur’, this mix of field recording, poetry, strings and electronics was designed and timed to be experienced during a specific walk through the park.
Since releasing ‘Like Water through The Sand’, Emilie has also worked on multiple projects in collaboration with visual artists such as Danica Dakic, Alice May Williams and Natasha Caruana. She has created music for video installations exhibited at Jerwood Project Space, Speke Hall, The ODI, Arles Photo Festival; and also for VR installations for HOUSE Biennal. As a live performer she has played Tallinn Music Week, Brighton Festival and the Union Chapel. In 2017, she was commissioned by The London contemporary Orchestra to write a pice for them for small string ensemble and live electronics, which received a premiere during the 2017 BBC Proms at The Tanks at Tate Modern.
This album contains no booklet.