VAST AND PERSONAL ADVENTURE
I have been reading this Apocalypse in English, in French, in Anglo-Saxon even, and a few more languages. Old Norse sounds funny. It is the most mysterious text I have ever read because it tells us a very old story going back to the flood after the last ice-age, dressing it in the attire of prediction, the morning star that tells us the future, the party pooper that only brings evil. But how do you live through this fate?
I am alive in the dragon as much as in the beast. I shiver at the four horses and their riders. I shudder with Babylon, this celestial divine whore, maybe not serving the Jewish or Christian god though, but some god living in some far away galaxy. I gasp with the pregnant woman that carries her destiny, and the story tells us it’s ours too, in her own hands; a way of speaking. The woman who represents us all, who delivers our passion in her suffering, my prey, my flesh, the blood I drink.
My poetical rewriting wants to be faithful to the Bible but it tries to give it a form that makes this admirable text musically rich. No easy desacralization, no pointless fetishization. Indeed I wish to make it lyrical and strong for a modern French ear. The meaning of the text is just as much in the form as in the words. The poetical shape gives the words spiritual power, the human spirituality I find and practice in several religions that have influenced my life, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Islam, plus various types of African animism.
The vocal mise en scène attempts to follow the story line with the Apostle who regularly points out the key moments of the story. But at the same time the vocal processing of the recording permits the impersonation of the various characters, thus dramatizing the tale.
I asked many composers to set this oratorio to music but it was always too important a project. I tried it with Annunzio Coulardeau in a live production in Olliergues for which he composed or improvised some concrete and electronic music. The first half of the oratorio was thus produced, a dead end production leading to a cul-de-sac in this track-blazing one-on-one.
Some people are afraid of religion, others of the lengthy story, still some others fear the vast vocal palette to gather, produce , construct, manage. And what about the music! Kévin Thorez got slowly into it and it took him three years to compose, record and edit the score. Three years for a quadruple pregnancy like the four famous horses. A music that embed the penile quaternary into the lubricious ternary, under the intense benevolence of the Lamb, the severe compassion of the Apostle, the lascivious interest of Babylon’s joyful daughter.
Let me know if the text is worth the trouble, if the music really carries the adventure towards an end that, far from being a salvation is indeed most dramatic, tragic, because you are being told the end of human materialism and its simple virtual survival?
And John the Apostle asks: “But is it that simple?”
“Nothing is ever as simple as we would like it to be!” answers the divine echo.