RicinnAh that moment where you expect a barrage of tumultuous breakcore and end up soothed by classical music. Not something that happens very often admittedly but Rïcïnn is the project penned by Laure LePrunenec who is the voice behind Corpo Mente, Igorrr & Öxxö Xööx. If you are looking for the sort of music that normally accompanies random umlauts you are not going to find it here as Rïcïnn allows the artist to really go and develop her more neo-classical leanings both instrumentally and vocally. Naturally the voice is all important and LePrunenec has in some quarters been compared to everyone from Diamanda Galas to Chelsea Wolfe and although I have not really found much of the latter here on first track Uma it is not long before she hits a curdling high range along with more gentle and delirious choral parts and lower gruff vocalisations. Nobody is quite like either Galas or indeed Jarboe though, so don’t be going looking for a carbon copy here in the slightest.

Music is rich and has lots of different aspects to it from various classical periods such as baroque and renaissance. It’s handled partly by Laurent Lunoir (Öxxö Xööx) and various other collaborators but all composed by LePrunenec herself. Over the near hour playing time it is incredibly easy to lose yourself in the warm caress as things gently flow although be prepared to occasionally be jolted back into life. It works particularly well as come down music either to ease you into the morning after the night before or to take you off into Morpheus arms. Out of everyone that I can think of vocally it is Lisa Gerrard who I keep thinking of as the music develops and quite often caresses the very soul. Other likeminded artists such as Amber Asylum are on the periphery too and indeed those with an affiliation to French torch singers will also find a lot of pleasure dipping into this.

On songs like Orchid there is a sense of elfin magic at play and it has plenty of fairy-tale enchantment about it although the branches are thorny and you wonder if a dark trick is going to be found up its sleeve. Sien Lian is an incredibly gentle marriage of voice and slow accordion and it’s incredibly Gallic taking me back to think about chanteuses in dark night clubs as you sit at a table soothing your heart with the voice and a bottle of absinthe. This one is very much a song of two movements though as orchestration develops into more symphonic realms that are incredibly well composed embracing both the past with the sound of modernity. With them the vocal gymnastics really come into their own. The sprawling ‘Little Bird’ takes in everything from strings to a near trip-hop beat along with passionate vocals and a splash of harpsichord. You could easily see Rïcïnn being a great choice of support for the likes of The Kronos Quartet listening to this. ‘Orpheus’ develops ideas hinted at mixing Chamber Music with French torch singing which works brilliantly and sees vocals at their most hypnotic and beguiling. I am reminded of Nebelhexë (could it be the umlaut) with the much more modern sounding ‘Drima’ which has a real spark about it and moments of fire and ‘Lumna’ with musical box is pure gorgeous nursery rhyme complete with ambient whale song. That obvious love of Chamber Music really comes to the fore at the end of the album which I guess could be described as the “cover” as ‘Laid In Earth’ is from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and it may well sound familiar to some of you.

There is no denying that classical music has spilled over and inspired a lot of modern music, especially with the likes of symphonic and black metal but here it is taken to another level and really incorporated into things in an entirely respectful fashion. This was a really interesting listen and although perhaps it may well be a bit lengthy if you are unsure it’s well worth sticking with and giving more than a cursory listen.

(8/10 Pete Woods)