Denis Frajerman | Wastelands / Lawrence Of Arabia
“A masterful bi/polar album in its very nature”
Denis Frajerman is a musician and composer hailing from France. Initially known for his participation in the experimental band Palo Alto, he regularly collaborates with storytellers and writers for radio sessions, oratorios, or records. This album is his latest installment, divided into two parts, Wastelands and Lawrence Of Arabia. Both combined, are consisting a uniformed creation, which is soaked in lyricism and emotion, different in each part, but uniquely wonderful.
Wastelands is a project emerged ten years back and based on the voice of Susannah Rooke, who read from T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. Initially the music was composed for rhythm boxes and keyboards, but Frajerman chose an acoustic approach, by using drums, cellos, violins, saxophones, and bass clarinet. I wish that there was a way to listen to his initial approach (in addition). A heavy cinematic atmosphere is apparent like a haunting veil in the four tracks of Wastelands! The dramatic, almost funerary tone of the recitation is where the whole aesthetic construction is based. Susannah Rooke’s voice is the epitome of beauty; steady, heavy, dark, expressive and along with cello, violin, saxophone and clarinet, a doleful musical landscape is unfolded. Even beyond these, T.S. Eliot poem alone is crushing by definition: “April is the cruelest month / breeding Lilacs out of the dead land / mixing memory and desire / stirring dull roots with spring rain / winter kept us warm, covering / earth in forgetful snow / feeding a little life with dried tubers / summer surprised us / coming over the Starnbergersee”. April is indeed the cruelest month, life and color of the coming spring is like pouring salt into the open wound of depression. In the midst of pain, such beauty is unbearable, bleak, sorrowful and deathlike! In conclusion, what Wastelands achieved, is a truly majestic and accurate representation of T.S. Eliot moody lines.
The second part of this album consists of ten pieces composed for compilations, with a somewhat Asian influence in common, thus the chosen title. Emotionally very much lighter and quite more uplifting than the first part, Lawrence Of Arabia comes to equalize feelings in a total contrast – I adore such contrasts. Everything here is playful, colorful, bright, cheerful, equally cinematic! Instrumentation is according to the very nature of the compositions, deeply rooted in the Middle East, with trademark percussive passages. Contemporary oriental jazz, exceptionally executed. After the heavy, beautiful misery of Wastelands (true to its title), comes the smooth touch of Lawrence Of Arabia! A multitude of different elements can be found here, all leading to the desert, to the heart of the moving dust, to a transcendental and erotically charged jazz wonderland. Violin, piano, saxophone, guitar, viola, bass guitar, electronics, percussion, an amalgam of wonderfulness! Rhythmic, polymorphic, lustful, mysterious, apocalyptic and damn amazing! Mostly instrumental, except track 10 and 11, which both encompasses some beautiful whispering in French. Moreover, this part contains two covers, Clock Bird (track 5) by Minimal Compact and Wie Der Wind Am Ende Einer Strasse (track 13) by Amon Düül II, the most experimental highlight of the album!
Wastelands / Lawrence Of Arabia is a masterful bipolar album in its very nature, a contradicting yet wonderful conception that has to be experienced in that sense, death and life in this particular order. Darkness and light, falling and uplifting, an album that consists of the primordial opposites that cannot be separated. Ever!