Forêt Endormie & Quercus Alba
This time of year, the “Song of the Summer” debate really starts to heat up. What’s the inescapable, party-ready single that wormed its way into our collective consciousness? This summer, the answer is obvious: “Old Town Road” by a country mile. So instead, I’d like to make an argument for the best music to play when the party has wound down and those left are chatting quietly, watching the campfire fade to embers. It’s the new split 7-inch EP by the Franco-gothic chamber-pop outfit Forêt Endormie and Minnesota folk sorcerer Quercus Alba.
Forêt Endormie is the side project of Jordan Guerette, lead guitarist for Portland black-metalsmiths Falls of Rauros, who just released a profound maelstrom of an album themselves [see my interview with singer/guitarist Aaron Charles in last month’s issue of Mainer]. The three Endormie tracks here continue the journey begun on 2017’s Étire dans le ciel vide – extended suites that shift between dissonance and resolution so organically that it’s like they’re following the lunar cycle. Guerette sings in French, which to a monolinguist like me only adds to the air of mystery. On the opening “Entouré,” Victoria Hurlburt’s violin searches for meaning and finds a glorious sonic expanse as the full quintet joins in. Pianist Emmitt Harrity stands out in this moment, his left hand racing up and down as if he’s pushing to surpass Danny Elfman’s scoring record. The rest of the first half of this release is equally mesmerizing.
Enter Jake Quittschreiber, member of Minneapolis doomsayers Circadian Ritual. Much like Endormie is for Guerette, Quercus Alba is Quittschreiber’s quieter alter ego, an outlet for his rustic guitar and banjo instrumentals. Having reached the end of Endormie’s moonlit journey, it feels like we’ve arrived at a farmhouse just before dawn, warm light and the welcoming scent of breakfast emanating from the windows. “Mourning Cloak” best embodies this feeling, with Quittschreiber layering acoustic melodies like blankets. It’s the perfect summer soundtrack for those stragglers in the backyard, staring at the stars as the chill sets in.