Philippe Petit – Fire-walking to Wonderland (CD Aagoo)

On ‘Fire-walking to Wonderland,’ Philippe Petit continuous the quest for a parallel universe he started on part 1 ‘Oneiric Rings on Grey Velvet’. This surrealistic quest is part of a trilogy (charmingly) called “Extra-ordinary Tales of a Lemon Girl”. The tracks are again presented in movements, simply entitled I – V.  In essence they are electro-acoustic compositions with all kinds of miniature structures in larger frameworks, sounding improvised from time to time.  

The strange patchwork of colours, sound, atmosphere and otherworldly impressions is intriguing. Instruments used are electric cymbalum (with a prominent role), triple caterpillar drum guitar (!), field recordings, electronic turntables and inflatable balloons all making up to an alienating experience. In the parts where percussion is used, it has some resemblance to the eclectic atmosphere Eli Keszler is able to evoke, with the typical nervous soundscapes creating claustrophobia that is then mixed in with the complex and detailed perfection that you’d associate with Edward Ka-spell. Being reminded of the latter is perhaps not that strange after all since the Dots-front man works with Petit on ‘Empires Should Burn’, released as a collaboration with Asva on Basses Frequences.  

 The movements on Fire-walking sound very agile, with a lot of turns, as if we are travelling fast and with a huge determination to reach Wonderland. But no matter the direction, the overall feeling stays mysterious. Where Fire-walking mainly differentiates from the Oneiric Rings is that although the same approach is used, the overall atmosphere is more dark and booby trapped, as if we need to be more careful now.  

This is a concept album, and the concept is one of alienating beauty, and all though the title suggests we are still travelling to a foreign place, the overall feel is that we have already arrived in wonderland some time ago. It slowly creeps under your skin, and once there, you want to know more about the background, about the strange scenery. Despite the fact that unfortunately a lot remains unknown, nevertheless this is a quite exciting journey, and maybe the feeling of questions left unanswered only adds to the overall experience. 

 Also available as a triple LP box on Aagoo. PvdG

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