“Performing on the eerie ondes Martenot alongside strings and piano, Christine Ott takes us deep into the uncanny valley.” – The Guardian, Contemporary Album of the Month
“The combination of strings, Ondes and Mellotron never sounds less than otherworldly. The duo’s name, rightly, paints a picture of wintry splendour and remote, icy expanses.” – The Quietus
France chamber duo Snowdrops compose an eloquent miniature symphony of strings, piano and the notoriously challenging Ondes Martenot instrument.
Formed in 2015 by Mathieu Gabry and Christine Ott, the pair’s respective experience yields a freedom and spontaneity, and a deeply personal approach to composition and orchestration. Christine Ott has performed alongside celebrated film composer Yann Tiersen, longstanding UK alternative band (and reputable soundtrack composers) Tindersticks, and French post-rock experimentalists Oiseaux-Tempête, resulting in the breadth of musical knowledge and the acute, skillful sensitivity to compositional subtleties and sympathies evident in Volutes. Alongside their contribution of piano, strings, mellotron, electronics and the Ondes Martenot, for Volutes Gabry and Ott are joined by virtuosic viola player Anne Irène-Kempf. From a classical and baroque background, Kempf’s extremely lively and spontaneous playing adds a special colour to the album.
The duo draw from a unique combination of contemporary classical, jazz, electronic music and film score, and spent the first few years of their partnership composing essentially to picture. Most notably, this soundtrack work includes the score to Phuttiphong Aroonpheng’s 2018 feature Manta Ray, which won the Lion Award for Best Film at the 2018 Venice Festival (Orizzonti category), and was eventually released by the UK’s Gizeh Records in 2019.
Much like their composition work for film, Volutes is based on an intimate and intuitive relationship with deeply expressive imagery. However, for Volutes, the imagery is conjured by the music instead of soundtracked by it. Opening single “Ultraviolet” marries blissful waves of the Martenot – Christine Ott’s specialist instrument – ebbing and rising against a raft of yearning, gentle strings and the barely perceptible spindrift of electronic synthesis, which build toward the piece’s soaring finale. Elsewhere, “Trapezian Fields” is led by lilting piano and a subtle sci-fi undercurrent of popping, bubbling rhythmic punctuation. Later in the album, “Odysseus” is well named – a hugely evocative, powerful journey of soaring dynamic changes that orbit around alien soundworlds and a densely textured crescendo that survives long after the final strains of its melody.
Christine Ott: Piano, Ondes Martenot
Anne-Irène Kempf: Viola
Mathieu Gabry: Piano, Mellotron, MS2000
Released on October 16th, 2020
Recorded at Wurth Museum Auditorium, Erstein
Edited by Christine Ott & Mathieu Gabry
Mixed by Mathieu Gabry & Benoit Burger
Mastered by Sean McCann at Recital
Artwork by Lali Torma
Design by Özge Cöne