Leaving the majesty of the Modernist and Deco-dotted Chicago skyline behind me, I lived in Columbus, OH for many years before discovering any beauty in its architecture. But I’d cast my sight too high, in search of drama rather than subtlety. It was only three years ago that I happen upon—or rather into—the work of Peter Eisenman, the master of deconstructivism. I walked up an incline that I could have sworn sloped to downhill (to a performance space where, later that night, I would first meet Shara Worden) and was immediately seduced by the paradoxical instability of it all. Later, I would find a book about Eisenman (Blurred Zones: Investigations of the Interstitial) and in it, a new obsession.
It is there, in that crack between genres, where Missy Mazzoli and post-chamber rock quintet Victoire have established themselves. Victoire first drew the attention of critics with an EP, A Door Into the Dark, released exclusively through eMusic in the 2009. Eighteen months later (September 28) will see the official release of their debut LP, Cathedral City, on New Amsterdam.
It is rare that an artist ticks all my boxes—glitchy lo-fi electronics, rhythmic instability, microtones, meandering melodies, ostinato, and sampled vocals to name a few—and even rarer to hear them woven together seamlessly. And yet, with Cathedral City, Victoire have done just that. Eschewing soaring melodies and sudden dynamic contrast, Victoire opt instead for a drama built on subtle variation, rhythmic and harmonic dissonance, and asymmetry. It is music so intricately constructed that it is not until the title track, three songs in, that it becomes clear that Cathedral City has long since firmly implanted itself in your consciousness.
From the brooding opener, “A Door into the Dark”, Cathedral City builds through the title track and trip-glitch “Like a Miracle” to a climax with “A Song for Arthur Russell”. The album draws to a close with the ruminative “India Whiskey”, but not before calling on numerous new music luminaries including Bryce Dessner (The National), Mellissa Hughes (The Little Death, Vol. 1), William Brittelle, and Florent Ghys while evoking the spirits of Philip Glass, Giacinto Scelsi, and a sedated Autechre or Aphex Twin. The result is a distant voice, filtered through a fog of influence and experience—a voice that’s fallen through the cracks.
The Interstitial. It’s one of the most beautiful concepts imaginable: the water frozen in fissures that reduces a mountain to dust—the artists who haunt the cracks and closes of aesthetics. And it is here that Missy Mazzoli and Victoire have been hard at work building a magnificent Cathedral City.
Download: Victoire – A Door into the Dark mp3