NO LAND is the new musical piece of non-categorizable composer and guitar player Olivier Mellano. At the crossroads of modern musical genres and new music, defying codes of traditional folk music, Olivier Mellano invited for this new projet the 30 musicians of Bagad Cesson and the marvelous voice of Brendan Perry from the Dead Can Dance duo.
I have always felt mysteriously attracted to the sound of Breton Pipe bands. At the same time, traditional Breton music seemed to always have the opposite impact. Today, I am confronting my writing to that ensemble in an attempt to solve this paradox.
Bagad contains a kind of martial ardour, an almost ecstatic self-discipline that moves me with its both rough and straight aspect, at first not appearing much pleasing and then that might completely take you. I wanted to see how we could make that ensemble sound different, with other harmonies, another form, another culture, still without rubbing out its characteristics and considering it sometimes as a compact whole of sounds, sometimes as an ensemble teeming with soloists.
With No Land, the concern and the diversion of traditional codes outflank Celtic tradition and could just as well refer to the jajouka from North Africa or Balinese music; some signs of the sound-epilepsy of Terry Riley could also be brought back, Robert Frip’s weavings or stigmata from my own pop-rock-cold-noise culture that perfectly suits the bagad energy. As with my pieces for electric guitars or my ‘How we tried…’ symphony, there is something close to maximalism and to a will to wear out an instrumentarium so that an uncluttered shape might emerge. It is about finding a submergence state where reasoning is ineffective and it is about that other place where you can sometimes be propelled thanks to the sound.
No Land is an open saga, an independent shape made of a whole single movement crossed by diverse energies, it is a sequence of stormy and serene landscapes above which a deep and powerful voice is floating, Brendan Perry’s one from the Dead Can Dance duo. His voice, one of the most beautiful in the world as far as I am concerned, has been guiding me for a long time and I assume it indirectly contributed to the composition since I have the impression that I wrote the vocal line to measure, so much his tone is familiar to me.
No Land’s theme is the absence of frontiers, or more precisely the assertion of its porosity worn as a flag, believing that no human beings can be reduced to one territory even though this territory might have built them up. To make use of an ensemble that is traditionally linked to land claim appeared to me quite appropriate to demand that anyone be a membership of a greater world where we are all breathing the same air. Moreover, Pipe band initially being a military ensemble, I decided to have it bear a reverse message to the one it historically had been created for. The Bagad Cesson ensemble, with its curiosity as well as its taste for off-road performance and its high requirement of quality, was the perfect interpreter.
Who could deny that yesterday and today evils are not issued from the very moment someone attributed themselves a piece of the world, while cutting away its immensity, declaring themselves free but locking themselves up and starting by growing the stem of a system vowed to implosion. This canto proudly bears its own innocence and it might be from this repeated and accepted candour that we will find back the path of reason, of appeasement, even of a possible magnanimity.
► No Land
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On Tour 2017
13 May – Le Lieu Unique – Nantes