[sic] Magazine

Mains de Givre – Esther Marie

Listening to instrumental guitar music can be such a drag when you’re a guitarist. It’s a game of spot-the-guitar-effects. In the case of Mains de Givre , Eric Quach (thisquietarmy) is pretty fond of tremolo, delay, reverb and looping, mostly handled with aplomb and a keen ear for texture. The point of difference here is Emilie Livernois-Desroches’ violin. She doesn’t actually do much – the bulk of the soundscaping comes from Quach – but her searing tone carries much of the emotional weight.

Opener ‘Un Choeur D’ames En Detresse’ is essentially a mournful introductory passage that aches in a minor key for around 12 minutes, the two players tentatively wandering around each other. The transition into ‘Les Cercles Des Moeurs’ provides the album’s most exciting moment, but unfortunately the loop doesn’t really travel anywhere interesting over its eight-minute course. At the track’s conclusion it’s a relief to have a moment of silence after an unbroken 20 minutes of electric emoting.

The second half of the record kicks off with Quach cranking up the fuzz, reverb and tremolo, exhaling an angry storm cloud. Amid the fury, Livernois-Desroches’ violin perpetually threatens to cut through like the promise of a new dawn, but largely remains overshadowed. The track doesn’t really go anywhere, but glowers with a compellingly threatening presence.

Closer ‘Larmes Sanglantes’ might just be a clue to a potentially fruitful new direction for the duo, with Quach’s guitar sitting back in the mix, allowing the synth-like interplay of pealing notes to become a glistening net through which the violin weaves with ardour. Lovely. Unfortunately Quach decides to come stomping into the scene with some fuzzy noodling and choppy tremolo drones, upsetting the hypnotic balance. Then some swooping flanger, etc. Blah.

As there’s not much going on in the way of melodies, it’s hard to avoid fixating upon the points at which Quach decides to stomp on another pedal. I fear that my familiarity with Quach’s technique prevents me from a more objective appraisal of this release, but it’s hard to deny that there’s something intriguing going on here. I’m definitely keen to hear where Mains de Givre go next.