Sylvain Chauveau & Stephan Mathieu – Palimpsest


pal·imp·sest  (plmp-sst)n.
1. A manuscript, typically of papyrus or parchment, that has been written on more than once, with the earlier writing incompletely erased and often legible

I guess I can safely assume that both Stephan Mathieu and Sylvain Chauveau don’t need any further introduction to readers of this blog.
Also, there’s not very much news in the concept of two artists working together in a digital dialogue, maybe even from different corners of the world. Usually, this means sending back and forth musical ideas – working, remixing, recreating and editing the tracks until they are fit enough to publish.
But not in this particular case!

Palimpsesttook an unexpected turn when Sylvain Chauveau only added his voice to the tracks presented by Stephan Mathieu – leaving the basic tracks unaltered.

I can vividly imagine Stephan Mathieu’s complete surprise when hearing back his tracks, unaltered, but with the added layer of vocals covering Bill Callahan‘s classic Smog songs.

As you might expect, this does not mean that these cover versions sound anything like the Smog / Bill Callahan low-fi originals.
Not even remotely so…!

The basic musical background of these versions is “trademark Stephan Mathieu abstract soundcapes material. Sylvain Chauveau‘s added vocal layer (remarkably resembling David Sylvian‘s style and timbre) may become rather  unnerving considering the songs lyrics:
“Why’s everybody looking at me / Like there’s something fundamentally wrong/
Like I’m a southern bird / That stayed north too long”

“I’m still amazed by how he ‘heard’ this potential in my pieces, and how he placed Bill’s lyrics there, especially since my original material was used for the album as is, without further changes or editing.” (Stephan Mathieu)

It takes courage to move into unexpected directions. And sometimes, like in this particular case, these unexpected directions are the ones that lead to new forms of art.

Palimpsest is the first release on the new “Schwebung” label. It is available in an audiophile vinyl edition (“celebrating the next 64 years of vinyl“), also including a (24 bit) FLAC digital download. A digital-only download will also be available.

release date: Sept. 21, 2012

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