MP, Vital, no. 69, March 1, 1997

Forêt profonde (which sadly translates as “Deep Forest” — remember that abysmally beige and blandish semi-Gnu Age array of ethnic samples and drum machines with the same name released three or so years ago?) is fabulous. Forêt profonde is the second part of, what is till now, a diptych (preceded by [Sous le regard d’un soleil noir]). A third part is imminent.

Styled an acousmatic melodrama, Forêt profonde is based on the fascinating book The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim, and it has gradually taken shape as a composition over fifteen years, culminating in two years’ final production. It is, like Bettelheim’s book, a guided tour of the childhood soul, which itself is nothing more than a return to the initiatory world — both cruel and reassuring — of fairy tales. The composition is divided into 13 sections (6 of which are purely instrumental) all of which contain some form of quotation from Schumann’s op.15: Scenes From Childhood. Texts by Hans Christian Andersen, Dante, Those Grimm Brothers, Shakespeare and of course Bettelheim himself are used in the piece.

The recurring theme in fairy tales of being lost in a forest (it’s up to you to work out the psychological parallels here) is reiterated here too. To anybody who has heard fairy tales, this image is unforgettable. As Bettelheim says, “… without fantasies to give us hope, we do not have the strength to meet the adversities of life. Childhood is the time when fantasies have to be nurtured.” Actually, this is probably the best CD I have heard so far this year. Monstrous. Unpredictable. Hallucinatory. It plays on the memories we all have that we connect to specific sounds. It is an intriguing voyage into familiar and dangerous territories where branches snap for no reason, where long shadows flit between the tree trunks and the passing breeze carries traces of wolf-breath. It’s the place where trapped birds are princesses, where the lure is golden, where banished sons become kissable frogs. Magickal slumber, castles and caves, locked rooms (with the key left in the lock, of course) and the endless growth of entangling vegetation…

… an intriguing voyage into familiar and dangerous territories…

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