Faites des Nattes !
Dernière mise à jour : 11 janv. 2022
Nattes ("braids") proved to be the toughest score in a long time for the band, as we not only had to learn the parts which are intricated, but RECORD IT LIVE. I'm really glad of the version we have on the disc, that shows all the hard work every member put in the making.
Ghost Rhythms is a band where you can find good music readers and, well, not so good (or not at all). I for myself am a non-reader. I tried but not hard enough, and so I find myself to be the co-leader of a band with some excellent readers without being myself able to properly read a score.
Anyways, that doesn't, funilly enough, prevent me to WRITE scores and to think about music in a formal way. I write the ugliest scores ever, that take hours and hours to decipher, and I feel sorry for the band every time I bring a piece to the table. So this one was especially excruciating, because as a non-reader I had to teach to other non-quite-so-good readers (Greg Kosovski and Guillaume Aventurin) to learn their parts, which are quite complicated ; and they had to do it by heart or almost by heart, which represents quite a number of notes and specifications.
I could feel the sweat coming down my neck as the recording date approached and I had no clue about how and when to learn others the parts and give specifications to others musicians that already knew their part. The clock was ticking, and Camille Petit helped this track to take shape a lot by encouraging me to go forward, and of course by giving score indications where I was clueless.
What gives the track its complexity is, however, what also makes its simplicity. Nattes (french braids) is a type of braided hairstyle where three sections of hair are braided together from the crown of the head to the nape of the neck. The track is essentially that : three sections of melodies are braided together. You can hear those three sections played at 0.29, by the cello, the tenor sax and the accordion. Together, when they are braided, they "reconstitute" a melody that was created on guitar and divided in three different melodic sections.
What makes that difficult to hear is that the real melody is in 5/8 ; but, when divided and played by three instruments, this means that :
1. there is a "ternary" feel to it, as the three instruments playing note after note create a kind of waltz ; although the real melody is in 5 times.
2. there is an "uncertainty" to it, as the instruments don't play a looped melody. To make it brief : the 5/8 nature of the melody prevents the instruments to play the same notes as the melody comes back again for another time (anybody wants aspirine ?).
So this rather simple system leads to a seriously complicated score, and furthermore this is complicated by the fact that there can be no mistake in the timing : if the cello plays WITH the saxophone, then something is wrong. So this shows how the band did work on this one, and how the night was good, as one week or two before the recording took place, we couldn't play the track entirely (seriously).
I remember fondly of a movie that our good pal Jonathan Martin (who designs our layouts since our first disc, and with who I paired for a number of editorial adventures) did, which involved someone making french braids to another. It is quite a striking image to see, and the movie (or the memory of it, or both) made a strong impression on me. For nothing is so gentle, and so human, than to make french braids to one another (well, I can see your point, there are a lot more ways to be human than to make french braids, but you see what I mean). Those woven gestures simply creates beauty. I can think of this movie as a "point de départ" for this composition.
Of course, the simple idea of spreading a unified melody on multiple instruments is not new, even in Ghost Rhythms' music, as we used this technique a lot in Madeleine, for example. But this composition, in a way, kind of represents my best effort to date to illustrate it.
And it would be a crime to not mention Camille Petit's delicate chorus, which illuminates and somehow clears the space in the middle of the track. This man is something.
To finish (a second aspirin?), I would like to highlight some "occult" implications that made me take a special interest in that composition. For there can't be only one world around us ; there has to be three. The one we can see, the one we can't, and the one that's in between. And those three universes, I think, are braided all the time.