Rune Grammofon / Home Normal || FR
AVAILABLE: Festivals / Specials
Formed in 1997 around Cyril Secq and Yvan Ros, as a guitar/drums duet, Astrïd has stabilized with successive arrivals of the violinist Vanina Andreani (1998) and the clarinettist Guillaume Wickel (2005).
Astrïd’s music takes its roots in improvised music, 70’s folk and jazz, classical and contempory music, from Ravel to Arvo Pärt.
From 2007, the group lives and works between Nantes and Marseille (France).
Astrïd has mostly played in atypical places (theaters, dance places, churches …), and has shared the stage with Rachel’s, Balmorhea, Gregor Samsa, …
Astrïd has worked with videasts, choregraphs and on the Guillaume Paturel’s short films trilogy NYC 3.
Cyril Secq also played with Charles-Eric Charrier (Oldman), Mathias Delplanque (Floating roots orchestra), That Summer. astrïd also played and recorded with Sylvain Chauveau and Rachel Grimes (Rachel’s). Yvan Ros and Guillaume Wickel play together with the group GGYBS.
A new album in collaboration with Sylvain Chauveau under Butterfly in the Snowfall will be released via Home Normal in June 2013.
PRESS FOR: 'HIGH BLUES'
"The music made by this French quartet on their third album, and first on Rune Grammofon, manages to convincingly straddle the increasingly slender hinterland that separates Earth in their current incarnation and Laughing Stock-era TalkTalk. The opening title track begins with a passage of low, ruminative electric guitar similar to Dylan Carlson on his current form, but then suddenly stops to splinter into an extended ambient and atmospheric form of improvisation. Much of High Blues stays within this register, although there are shades of musical film noir within the guitar twangs of Suite. The sense of slow drift, of music to contemplate dust particles floating through the air, is heightened by Astrïd's arrangement of a piece by Erik Satie. lt's an appropriate fit as, like Satie, Astrïd produce chamber music which allows the mind to focus or wander at will."
"High Blues is such an apposite title for this collection of Astrïd tracks, it feels like any commentary does little more than circle around it, pointing great hammy arrows towards it. It perfectly encapsulates the sense of space that pervades everything they do, and gets to the heart of their tonal explorations of light and weight. High Blues is music for canyons and high wide skies. Astrïd, based in France, have been around in one form or another since 1997. The core of the band are guitarist and drummer Cyril Secq and Yvan Ros, and their early recordings explored the interaction between these two instruments. They’ve since expanded to include violinist Vanina Andreani and clarinettist Guillaume Wickel and their sound has correspondingly expanded – tonally and more literally in terms of the depth of the sonic fields they now traverse. The band exist apart, working between Nantes and Marseille, and as such their 15 year existence has yielded relatively little – just two albums before this. They don’t work fast, but that kind of makes sense. ‘High Blues’, the 21-minute opening track, is a narcotic lope of a thing, reeking of cactus and phosphorescence. Built around a subterranean bassline (that almost summons Charlie Haden) and a signature lambent guitar line from Cyril Secq, like Earth or Barn Owl at their most kosmische, it moves in a gradual widening arc, almost like a vast encroaching dust eddy. The movement is so gradual you barely notice the addition of squalls of clarinet and flute, the distant drag of violin. It doesn’t reach a crescendo so much as fatten at the centre and gradually dissipate again. And from here, the album never really shifts gear beyond a graceful opiated sleepwalk. The second track ‘Erik S.’ is a quietly reverent cover of an Erik Satie composition, composed of little more than a beautifully understated clarinet figure and Secq’s deft fingerpicking. In its later stages it threatens to expand with what some percussive clicks from what sounds like a kalimba, but it soon devolves once more. ‘Suite’ returns to the desert blues of the title track, introducing a deep piano line, beneath which sit Yvan Ros’s massive-sounding floor toms. In the end High Blues is a study in atmosphere and a study in space; and given our collective clamour for room, for somewhere to escape too, this is a welcome relief. [The Liminal]
"The death of the album. Forgive me. I have been spending too much time around writers of late and find the topic of ‘the death of the novel’ repeating over and over and over in my mind. It is quite fascinating. Is the novel really dead/dying? I digress. But, relate this idea to music and do the same fears exist? The album as a concept is most definitely under threat. Its very existence is perhaps less and less important in this digital obsessed world. Go back 50 years and singles were where it was at. Albums were be made up of a few hit songs and basically, a lot of filler. In the case of some artists nothing has changed and as we move towards a world where people can buy songs as they please, download snippets of a record, listen to tracks on the likes of bandcamp, soundcloud and spotify never having to own the physical product, the album does appear to be an art form under severe threat. And it is an art form. A point that could not be highlighted more beautifully than by this wonderful record from French artists Astrid. An album should capture you from the beginning, hold your attention through the early acts, pick you up in the middle when you are perhaps distracted and finish long before your attention has been able to disintegrate or been given over to some other activity. Lie on your bed, shut your eyes and a truly wonderful record will be over before you feel the need to stir and rise. It will consume you and your being from first til last and you will feel amazing for the experience. ‘High Blues’ opens with a riff that could be taken straight from an album by The Black Keys. But this is not rock and roll. This is music filled with madness and imagination. It’s midnight music. Music that has been produced by consuming everything ever written by Tom Waits, Captain Beefheart and other eccentric geniuses (along with copious amounts of wine) then spewing out these sources of inspiration to create soundscapes as dense as they are spacious, as focused as they are schizophrenic. Astrid have produced a quite simply brilliant work that captures perfectly what instrumental music is all about. Ladies and gentlemen, words don’t have to exist to create focus and interest. And words cannot truly express the creative vibrancy on show on this record so why try? It is records like this that encourage people to continue to consume the album and rather than be specific about the details I say – buy this record now. Buy it and embrace it. It’s at moments like this that I reflect on the state of music in the 21st Century and realise that the album is not dead. The consumer may choose to invest in music in a different manner but as long as we have brilliant musicians like Astrid determined to create cohesive and absorbing records then the album, as an art form, is in safe hands." [Fluid Radio]