Me Quitte at SPOR Festival

This Thursday SPOR festival for Contemporary music and sound art kicks off in the “city of smiles”, Aarhus. Friday evening audiences can experience Edition·S – music¬sound¬art composer Niels Rønsholdt’s Me Quitte.

Learn more about the work here and take a moment to grasp this strangely beautiful photo by Anka Bardeleben.

The love song reflected in a cabinet of magic mirrors

The great love is one of the most powerful ideals in our culture. It is not only a Christian religious reminiscence; the happiness that love brings is also the spine of popular culture’s omnipresent worldview. Reality is however in many ways completely different: love is not always a liberating good, on the contrary it is just as often the root of human misery and degradation: it is selfish, unromantic, destructive, cruel. The unhappy love might even be love’s actual essence – and not its aberration.

One of romantic love’s strongest manifestations is the modern French chanson, personified in singers such as Brel, Brassens, Piaf and many more. Here the dream of the perfect love is unfolded in both music and text, here love lives in its mysterious Parisian romance – far from love’s traces of suffering, degradation, misery, loneliness…

The devil sees everything reversed. In Hell the good is turned to evil and seen through the brightness of the magic mirror, beauty is repulsive. In Me Quitte this is fully paraphrased and interpreted directly: Jacque’s Brel-chanson Ne Me Quitte Pas (“Don’t Leave me”) resonates as a mirrored, disturbed echo through all ten songs.

Musically and in terms of the songs the Latin crooner pathos is turned inside out into a transparent fragility in voice and instrumentation. Simple melodic phrases are recorded backwards with non-reversed text, thereafter the recording is reversed and the result is the original melody but now with the text reversed – and with a rather unique phrasing since the beginning of a phrase is now its ending and vice versa. The singers memorize the result and recreate it live.

The songs are straightforward on the surface, but structured in old, obscure formats (in line with the classic-modern interpretation of the devil figure as an old fashioned and baroque systematist cf. Mann’s Doctor Faustus). In the songs the recognizable is framed in unfamiliarity where the reversed and the non-inverted take place side by side and shape an expression which is both immediately gripping and inaccessibly distanced.

Me Quitte comprises 10 songs; the first five were performed at SPOR Festival 2012.