Erik Satie et les Nouveaux Jeunes

Erik Satie et les Nouveaux Jeunes cover

I guest most people listening to ambient and ‘post-classical’ music also have a special place in their heart for the music of Erik Satie. Or at least they should have.

The eccentric genius composer, or “phonometrician” as he called himself,  “the laziest student in the (Paris)Conservatoire” (where he was labelled untalented by his teachers) has left the world some of the most impressive (and introspective) compositions – of which the Gymnopédies and the Gnossiennes are the most famous.
With his ideas about Musique d’ameublement (‘Furniture music’), Satie was one of the real predecessors of ‘ambient’ music.

So any double CD set offering reworkings of his music by some of the best artists in the contemporary experimental ambient/electronic genre immediately has my full interest!

Satie et les Nouveaux Jeunes  offers 32 tracks, and a jaw-dropping list of contributors boasting names like Library Tapes, Max Richter, Julia Kent, Part Timer, Rachel Grimes, Sylvain Chauveau, Rafael Anton Irisarri, Goldmund, Pan American, Hauschka, Peter Broderick, Nils Frahm, Dustin O’Halloran…among others.

As expected, each artists takes a different approach to Satie’s heritage. The result is a very adventurous set, yet also somewhat inconsistent at times.
As if they realised there is little to improve to the original compositions, some “Nouveaux Jeunes” respond with the same provocative relativism that marked Satie, some stay very close to the original pieces, and others deliver a track where the link with Satie’s original music is hard to recognise.

With compilations like this, there’s little chance that you like all of the 32 tracks. What you like may differ depending on your particular taste, and on the mood of the moment.  
But at least, Satie et les Nouveaux Jeunes  is an interesting hommage to Erik Satie
An obligatory listen for fans of the artists involved as well as Satie (although maybe not for Satie ‘purists’)

Julia Kent – Seul, Pendant un Instant

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  1. PvC

    Igor, you are of course right in your comment, that’s why I did not say “the predecessor” but “one of the predecessors” of ambient music. This does not exclude all others working in that field before him, either in or outside of Europe.
    In defining his ‘musique d’ameublement’, Satie is said to have urged his audience to continue their conversation while the music was playing (as opposed to dedicated listening). Now that’s what I call a true devotion to ‘ambient’ music!

  2. I would not call Éric Satie, whose music is devoid of any frills and embellishments, predecessor of ‘ambient’ music – since long before him such a slow repetitive musical phrases were used by oriental and afro musicians. If you wide open to listen…

    It was a time when European culture was experienced a period of rejuvenation and, accordingly, artists tried to break the previously accepted norms (or to reduce them to nearly zero). He was a master of it.