[Album Review] Marie Davidson- Un Autre Voyage
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Release Date: April 14th, 2015
Label: Holodeck Records

Marie Davidson is uncompromising. As usual, this is a two-edged sword – if you like her aesthetics and style then you are in luck, if you don’t then that is too bad. Davidson is not out to convert anyone. She prefers spoken word and rarely sings, plus she eschews conventional song structures. And this is not dance material. Some of the tracks on ‘Un Autre Voyage’ may have a beat (about half of them) but they are still not suitable for the nightclub.

The six tracks on her latest output are works of darkwave or drone, with repeated passages of electronica. However, the vocals convey too much drama and the music too cinematic for this to be considered ambient. Consider the opening track “Boulevard Taschereau” with its exciting synth groove reminiscent of the Bladerunner soundtrack. Davidson relates the story (or perhaps a vignette) of an ephemeral encounter between two lovers. There’s a surreal quality as the narrative is punctuated with strange characters uttering strange things. It’s like a Fellini movie.

Elsewhere there are periods of almost pure drone (the nightmarish “Kidnap You In The Desert” and the no less chilling “Perséphone“), the odd, more upbeat moment (“Insomnie”) and some great analogue synth (the Kraftwerk-like “Excès de vitesse”). It is on “Balade aux USA” that Davidson comes perhaps close to compromising (still a stretch). Although it features the usual repeated pattern, there is more movement as the passage slowly evolves, and there is actually a lively rhythm and beat. Most significantly, there is the introduction of an electric guitar (courtesy of husband, Pierre Guerineau), which wails with desperate urgency. Arguably the respite isn’t necessary, but the song does provide a break from the more ponderous pace of the rest of the record.

For aficionados of her style Davidson is a compelling enigma. She is like a foreign being that you are irresistibly drawn to, but to whom you can never really connect. Her narratives are clearly personal (based on true events, apparently) but the eeriness of both the music and her vocal style are alienating. However, like other quirky musical characters (e.g. Bowie, Bjork) this sense of separation does nothing but enhance the appeal.