French electronica and classical project fails to deliver.
Chris Jones 2009-07-23
The brainchild of French conductor Laurence Equilbey AKA Iko, Private Domain is a collaborative work which draws on a cast of prominent electronica and electronic pop artists. It's yet another attempt to make the music by - as Bill and Ted would say - some famous dead dudes, hip. Ie: classical composers such as Bach, Faure, Beethoven and Mozart. Oh dear...
To be fair things start off quite hopefully, as Marc Collin (he of 'ironic' Gallic pop pastichers Nouvelle Vague) joins forces with vocalists Paul et Louise to turn the opera of Rameau into jaunty euro pop. Collin's approach comes off best because he's sticking to what he knows, rather than trying to bolt the originals to something incongruous. Instead he uses the great tunes to create new work, just as Eric Carmen's All By Myself used the unbreakable tunes of Rachmaninov, or Procol Harum nicked a prime bit of Bach for A Whiter Shade Of Pale.
Such 'steals' have a bigger chance of sending people scurrying after the originals than what follows here. Para One's Requiem Fragment (Mozart) is all Switched On Bach (for those who remember the earliest attempts to update the classics for the electronic age). Mexican Murcof is an artist who, following his excellent Versailles Sessions, might have been expected to come up with something new, but his Monteverdi adaptation, Amor, is only pleasingly glitchy and creepy until singer Piana joins in and sends it all Adiemus. His version of Schubert's Death and the Maiden, with some trip hop beats is no better. Think Classic FM.
And while Emilie Simon's Un Reve (Faure) is delightful in its Gallic prettiness, its charming effects are immediately rubbed out by the final mauling of Bach by Para One's DX7 and strings on the overwrought Passion.
The most telling quote from Iko is one where she claims to want to reach, ''all those people who still think classical music is dull''. Like turning Shakespeare into comic books, this signals the wrong-headed assumption that we must bend over backwards to 'get to' people who simply haven't been introduced to cultural treasures properly. Any lack of appreciation is to do with education, not form. All this music sounds astounding in its original formats and no amount of bleeps and beats would ever either improve or make anyone think it more 'cool'. When will we learn?