Angèle David-Guillou Announces Album & Releases 'Desert Stilts' (Village Green)


'I started working on Desert Stilts as I was looking into odd metric changes and Baroque rhythms. At the same time I was reading a passage of Gurdjieff’s book Meetings With Remarkable Men, in which himself and a group of friends are crossing a desert. There is suddenly a terrible sand storm and the team of adventurers are stopped in their track. After a while they decide, as one does, to walk on stilts. High from the ground, the air is clear and windless and they can walk without any problem across the desert whilst the storm is raging below. I love this fable for its beautiful metaphoric meaning but also because it is totally absurd and told with great wit and humour. Peace is achieved through determination, light-heartedness and absurdity. I love this combination of the serious and the absurd and I wanted to translate that into music.’ Angèle David-Guillou on ‘Desert Stilts'

'David-Guillou’s widescreen arrangements incorporate a richly woven tapestry of saxophones, woodwinds, and strings’Self-Titled

London-based French composer Angèle David-Guillou makes audacious music that explores the interaction between rhythm and melody, structure and emotion, permanence and change. Her work is one of incessant dialogue between these elements, creating hypnotic compositions whose mutable internal architecture and shifting melodic accentuations immediately draw the listener in. It’s a compositional process that is central to the eight compelling essays on the aptly titled’ En Mouvement,’ David-Guillou’s new album, the second under her given name, but it’s an approach that was present even in her earlier singer-songwriting work as Klima, and with cult electronic art-rock band Piano Magic. Her signature writing style is characterised by asymmetric bar lengths, irregular verse constructions and zoetrope-like arrangements – an approach to music as implicitly indebted to the canon of innovative rock and pop, Philip Glass’s ‘Music With Changing Parts’ or early European Baroque music.

Born and raised in Tours in the Loire Valley, David-Guillou was classically educated in piano, singing, harmony and musical theory. She became obsessed with the work of German composer Carl Orff at a young age, and later enticed by the experimentation of Sonic Youth, taught herself guitar and joined her first rock band at 15.  Simultaneously, she developed a longstanding interest in the academic study of the social history of music, and worked on her PhD at the Sorbonne. From 2002 she began collaborating with the aforementioned London-based avant-rock group Piano Magic, singing and playing guitar, synths and other keyboards, co-writing a good deal of the band’s material and touring all over the world. In 2006 she moved to London and recorded her debut solo album, under the Klima moniker. Released the following year on West London’s Peacefrog imprint (home to José González, Little Dragon et al), the album was a critical success. She was soon at work on a second Klima album, ‘Serenades and Serinettes,’ released by Second language in 2010.

In 2008 David-Guillou had purchased a second-hand upright piano, her first piano since childhood, and somehow squeezed it into a room at the top of the stairs in her south London flat. Falling instantly in love with the instrument all over again, she began composing on it straight away. The resulting material would ultimately appear on the album ‘Kourouma’ (named after the Ivorian anti-war author Ahmadou Kourouma), released in 2013 by Village Green. This impressive collection of compositions, notably influenced by the succinct, synergistic dialogue between melodic and rhythmic elements developed in the music of Moondog, was lauded for its maturity and the melodic richness of its dozen essays for piano, electric piano, neo-Baroque chamber orchestration and voice.

Eager to explore her metier further and experiment in particular with the resonance of the piano as a compositional tool, in 2015 David-Guillou set out to purchase a grand piano. After many a pianistic encounter across the length and breadth of Britain, she eventually discovered an August Förster model built in the early 1980s, in what was then East Germany, and immediately knew it was the one. A sublime instrument, with an incredibly sensuous bass and rich harmonics, the piano would provide the foundation for a set of ambitious new compositions, later interleaved with David-Guillou’s intricate arrangements for saxophones, woodwind and strings, that would eventually make up the ‘En Mouvement’ album.

Informed by a rich and eclectic tapestry of cultural stimuli, including Philip Glass’s ‘Glassworks,’ the music for movement of Thomas De Hartmann and George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, Alvin Curran's compositions for the piano, French and Spanish Baroque music, the films of Andrei Tarkovsky and Jean Cocteau, Sufi writings, Sumerian art and contemporary dance, the pieces on ‘En Mouvement’ are the work of a reflective, intellectually engaged yet delightfully instinctive modern composer who has made the limitless mutability implied by the concept of ‘movement’ a thing of personal transformation and mesmeric musicality. “Very early on in the process of working on the compositions for this album, the idea of ‘movement’ became my central point of focus”, David-Guillou confirms. “The word seemed to encapsulate all my obsessions. En mouvement literally means ‘in motion’, but the word in French, as in English, is extremely rich and suggests an array of ideas such as motion, gesture, dance, musical parts, clockwork, repetition, displacement, emotional confusion or excitement. I hadn’t previously understood how important this concept was to me.” 

With her second album of modern composition, Angèle David-Guillou’s career is palpably en movement, and, excitingly, it feels like the beginning of a long and thrillingly creative musical journey.