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Woelv: Tout Seul dans la Forêt en Plein Jour, Avez-Vous Peur?

Woelv: Tout Seul dans la Forêt en Plein Jour, Avez-Vous Peur?

Release Date:2007

By Raymond Cummings | Posted 12/19/2007

On the cover of Woelv's latest album, blindfolded children in camouflage lurk in a pitch-black forest; within the accompanying booklet, others are stalked by a death-masked ghost, imprisoned, and succumb to unseen maladies or phantasms. As an album, Tout Seul dans la Forêt en Plein Jour, Avez-Vous Peur? offers no more comfort than its unsettling, post-Godspeed You Black Emperor! packaging.

Woelv is the musical/visual project of French expat Geneviève Elverum; hubby Phil "Mount Eerie" Elverum chimes in with the occasional distorted drum rumble or guest vocal, but it's his wife's winter solstice horror show-the impact blunted, perhaps, because the lyrics are performed in French.

"Drapeau Blanc" at first sets Geneviève Elverum's girlish mumbles to stealthy acoustic guitars, but it isn't long until she's howling and the instrumental sound has swollen to marching band intensity. "La Petite Cane Danse le Nappe de Pétrole" slinks from a forlorn folk void into a bristling, tremoring no man's land so intense that the otherworldly, sonorous clarity of her multitracked vocals is overshadowed. Sorrowful oboes, unobtrusive organs, polyrhythmic drum bursts, and sparingly used shakers lead a funeral procession through "L'homme Qui Vient de Marcher Sur Une Mine" as she flits from breathy stage whispers to hair-raisingly loud wails.

Throughout, an obsidian stillness lurks at the bottom of the mix like a patient predator; that wind-swept, several-minutes-long outro that winds Tout down may be the year's most frighteningly placed field recording. Wanna really feel your blood curdle? Scan the English lyrical translations in the liners for a window into Woelv's dark worldview. It's some harsh poetry, full of accidental oppressors, animalized people, victimized cherubs, and suicidal tendencies. Woelv carves a sonic space you may not be able to handle more than a few times, but you're unlikely to forget what you find there.

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