Roxane Métayer “Éclipse des Ocelles”

There’s a moment around the midpoint of “Mille pics,” the opener on Éclipse des Ocelles, where Métayer plays a languid, vulnerable passage on her violin, accented by birdsong and woodpecker thrumming, that transports you deep into the forest, all alone and unencumbered. Throughout Éclipse des Ocelles, a serene sense of isolation takes root and blooms through bells, wind instruments, field recordings, and, especially, violin. This textural music is heavy and sincere while still remaining airy, as if it could rest on top of clouds. 

Immersed in experimental folk zones, Métayer breathes new life and ideas into a space previously occupied by the likes of Nalle and The One Ensemble of Daniel Padden. Rich stretched-out melodies are underscored with desolate, yearning drones on “Phaleine Somnolente.” Plucked strings are footsteps sneaking up from behind, haunting you as an ever-present spectre that is a reminder of all that’s been left behind. As the violin notes rise toward the heavens, it’s not so much a long to return home as much as it feels like an obligation. Resignation is shattered, though, when “Quand l’abeille survient” wheezes into life, pushing back against expectation and pushing you back into the wilderness. Beautifully constructed themes run hand-in-hand with the screeching, purifying dissonance. 

So much about Éclipse des Ocelles is a time capsule from 10-15 years ago without being a carbon copy. I love how fresh Métayer’s approach sounds and how her music conjures vivid feelings and imagery. It’s an impressive debut album that takes time to reveal its secret, but once it does there’s a magical world to explore.