Trio Reines d’Angleterre, made up of noise pioneer and veteran Ghédalia Tazartès teaming with younger deconstructionists él-g & Jo, have released a singularly ethnic album. Not that ‘ethnic’ by itself means anything: is it an offensive term for something Other? Does it refer to a specific place, a specific people, a specific style? A specific language even?
No, to all accounts (except, perhaps, the offensive question). On Les Comores, Reines d’Angleterre tightly restrain the free noise and industrial leanings of each member, and the result is an album that bounces and smashes influences and cultures, ethnicities and languages – even/especially Tazartès’ trademark fictional language – off and into each other. There are pieces of Native American drum circle wailing, Exuma-style Caribbean folk, American children’s folk music, gypsy clatter, blues riffs pulled into oblivion, French and English and gibberish. There is singing and speaking, and everything fighting for recognition over the walls of sound that, picked apart, are themselves clamoring pieces broken off of at one time coherent wholes.
Reines d’Angleterre are not curators picking up and showing off the pieces that have built them, they are musicians living within a multifarious and incoherent culture, they are the most recent examples of T.S. Eliot’s self-portrait in ‘The Waste Land’: “these fragments I have shored against my ruins”, because surely Les Comores is an album about ruin as well. No matter the urgency of Tazartès’ voice – that voice – by the end it is almost swallowed by the noise it rises from, the noise it combats and tries to shout into place. Is that the point? Is there a struggle between the human and the inhuman, first pointed at by the title that refers to an African island nation which France still oversees? Whatever the struggle, Reines make it one we must fight from within our contradictory cultural makeups so that we become not universalists, not French, not American or Comoran, but human, owning another poet’s prescient statement, a positive reinterpretation Eliot made negative, Walt Whitman wildly writing: “Do I contradict myself? Fine, I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”
Reines d’Angleterre – Untitled (Track 3 side B)
Reines d’Angleterre – Untitled (Track 1 side B)