Klima – Serenades & Serinettes

Klima - Serenades & Serinettes

Having given herself over so selflessly as a spellbinding vocal conduit for the muse of Glen Johnson (through Piano Magic and connected side-projects), Angèle David-Guillou’s 2007 solo debut under her Klima pseudonym ultimately struggled to reach out as a truly standalone affair, despite its inherent allure and promising charms.  This long-gestated sequel should, by rights, suffer no such overshadowing regardless of being released via the Johnson co-run Second Language label and featuring the direct involvement of Piano Magic colleagues.

Whereas its prequel sometimes concealed its intimate beauty within more electronically-confined arrangements, Serenades & Serinettes is a positively widescreen and organic affair in stark but not jarring comparison.  Making greater and unguarded use of David-Guillou’s classical training and multi-instrumentalist gifts, the album uncoils with a diverse yet not disparate range of influences. Her collaborators – including Johnson, Piano Magic percussionist/programmer Jérôme Tcherneyan and the two halves of Phelan Sheppard – contribute generously to David-Guillou’s self-acknowledged perfectionist vision without overpowering or overcrowding it.

So although opening with a cover of Piano Magic’s “French Mittens” (originally recorded long before she joined the group) David-Guillou emphatically makes it her own by transplanting it from a murky bedroom-built synthscape into a windswept strings and horns reinterpretation that swells, ripples and simply oozes opulence.  Crucially though, her own songwriting also makes a large leap forward.  For instance, the sublime “By My Side,” with its layered flutes and almost martial drums, wraps a delightfully deadly Johnson-rivalling lyric inside a beatific package in which David-Guillou delicately deadpans “I will break you in small parts over the lawn/A jar will be your home/And I will keep you by my side.”  Elsewhere, there are further choice examples of darkness being draped in disarming dreaminess; like the waltzing obsession-driven “I Will Remember You,” the nakedly personal piano-and-voice-only “Father,” the mesmeric “Bottomless Sea” and the brilliantly bleak yet rapturous “In My Room,” which impressively imagines Dead Can Dance being stripped of gothic gauze by Arcade Fire’s Régine Chassagne.

Aside from the more elegantly crafted pieces, the Klima idiom also stretches here into more obtuse and looser realms that reveal a sense of mischief and invention that is often overlooked in the prolific works of Piano Magic’s extended family.  Hence, there’s the New Order-meets-chamber folk of “Things Get Better With Time,” the wordless Gallic baroque space-pop of “Papillion De Nuit” and the instrumental group jam of “Orfanns” which glides the gauntlet between Carl Orff, Steve Reich, Stereolab, Piper-era Pink Floyd, Moondog and Talking Heads’ Afro-beat excursions.

Taken as a whole, Serenades & Serinettes wears both a heart and a head on its sleeve for a rich widening of Angèle David-Guillou’s already considerable artistry.  Moreover, it masterfully compliments – as well as healthily competes with – her finest moments as part of Piano Magic.

Second Language

Second Language Podcast 7

(Featuring live-in-the-studio versions of songs from Serenades & Serinettes)