Music Les Étoiles ‘Little Measurements’

Little Measurements, the new album by the intriguing Les Étoiles is the latest release by the 'Records on Ribs' label. Ceasefire's Alex Baker takes a listen.

Music & Dance, New in Ceasefire - Posted on Sunday, April 24, 2011 0:00 - 0 Comments

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By Alex Baker

If you let your circadian rhythm slip out of time with that of the working and waking world, through jetlag or unemployment, one can experience an estrangement that is almost gone from our lives, a space outside the worlds we know.

It is in this strange infinity I first encounter Les Étoiles Little Measurements; “I would like this morning/to last for a summer” David Fitzpatrick careens out of silence on ‘Past the Dawn’, a tale of fixation in an early stroll.

His voice, often compared to that of Talk Talk singer Mark Hollis, is by far the most startling feature of this album. However, unlike Hollis, whose work increasingly drifted into abstract washes of sound, Les Étoiles’ has progressed from previous album To Leave a Mark into more controlled and structured territory, bringing in fellow musicians as support.

The result is some of the most accomplished solo work to come out this year; opener ‘A Year’ and closer ‘Unwritten by Hand’ bracket the album with sparing piano keys working alongside accordion and ondes martenot, like birdsong next to the drones of a 5am motorway.

It takes a moment to recognise, but these are the complete and moving forms we know as songs; a term that seems to have lost all meaning under a wave of ‘singer-songwriters’ touted as the next Bunyan or Drake but lacking the pain of either.

Les Étoiles – Little Measurements by Records On Ribs

Les Étoiles is not comfortable listening to accompany dinner parties in suburban safe seats, but rather the signs of their decay- heading into the attic to find old photographs to show guests and seeing the holes in the roof over your head.

Emotion is used here not in its ideal form, but as the painful and often violent entity that it is, the “howling wind/outside your window” we hear on ‘From a Room’, over electronic clicks and buzzes, or the poignant warmth of ‘No One Else’ with its fleeting guitar lines.

The floor all too often drops out from underneath you and abandons you to visions and swells- a recurrent theme is one of preoccupation with feeling: We are lucky that we can cross paths with Fitzpatrick to “walk through the old forgotten route” for a while at all.

At three in the morning I found myself re-listening to this, short, almost perfect, album, trying to avoid sleep and tomorrow. Deserving so much more than to be forgotten now and found later; Little Measurements is an hourless album of mess and mystery.

Alex Baker is a postgraduate student and activist based in Nottingham, UK.

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