Exotica-infused glitch chansons with that certain je ne sais quoi
"To me, Partura is like an actual living being, it is something that I raise alongside me. I want to watch it grow and accompany it on its journey. After all, Partura is a bit like myself, I guess: A little wild and untameable, with strong feelings." MEI
Released: May 20, 2016
Format: LP (white vinyl), digital
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Uovooo
Copyright (c) – Uovooo (EOVA_02)
All music written & arranged by Mei
Cover image "Winterface" by Adam Martinakis (2015)
Mastered by Markus Popp
Mixing, arrangements, beats and sound programming
Harp on “Why Do We Do”, harp arrangement for “Archéen”
Violins on “The Three Ends”
Viola on “Why Do We Do”
Years in the making, Partura is a debut album of immense scope: Yearning, melancholic, post-clubbing space ballads (NELUMBO), flirty, fragmented, avant-pop (FELES) and somber, haunting “Exotica”-infused melodies, ripped from old movie soundtracks over glitchy beats (WHY DO WE DO) and much more: Neo-baroque instrumentals (CELLULA), sounds of nature / wildlife, pastel-colored industrial (HIGH) - there is a lot going on this record.
Mei’s vocals range from to futuristic android lullabies (THE CRADLE OF THE CRADLE) to intimate, strangely solemn cyberpunk-chansons (THE THREE ENDS) - and there are even some sprinkles of the hedonistic, angular, synthetic 1980s in there (INSECTS).
This Bandcamp-exclusive special edition of the album will feature various digital extras: A ravaging remix (INSECTS) by Markus Popp aka Oval as well the quirky music video for FELES plus a deluxe photo set, photographed by Latifa Messaoudi.
“If Partura was a building, it would be one of these organic design studies by architects: A white, round cocoon house in the middle of nature - quaint, a little alien and mysterious."
“This album is a bit like me: A little wild, untamed, all about intense feelings. If Partura was a person, it would be a teenage girl”. MEI
Photos by LATIFA MESSAOUDI
So...who is Mei?
Mei is like the inner part, the core of Caroline Masson. I generally feel at home with strange characters like Alice (In Wonderland) - or this girl Mei in “My Neighbor Totoro”. I love the openness and curiosity of these characters. Before I started doing music for real, I was training to be a dancer at the “Le Crazy Horse”-cabaret in Paris. My plan B was to work as an entomologist, an insect researcher.
First and foremost, it’s my debut album. But there are also other ways to say this: If Partura was a building, it would be one of these design studies by architects, like a white, round cocoon house in the middle of nature, small and a little mysterious. And if Partura was a person, I am pretty sure that Partura would be a teenage girl.
How long have you worked on Partura and what was that like?
I started writing these songs five years ago and I’m really pleased with the result. The album was made in a totally care-free, “anything goes”-type of mindset. Partura always has been a theme, a storyline living in the back of my my head. This is how I write all my music: I dream it up! As an artist, I think you must solely trust your instincts and not merely deliver what is expected of you.
Is Partura an electronic music album?
Yes and no. Sure, I use a laptop, software, plug-ins, the tools everybody uses. But I also love acoustic instruments, virtual as well as real ones. Plus, I always have these abstract elements in my head, triangular forms with textures or colors, but also smells and all sorts of sensations and then I turn them into sound with my computer, layer by layer. I always prefer an organic result, like a hand-drawn landscape that feels alive, a landscape the listener can wander around in.
Can you give some insight into your musical process?
I sometimes sample old movie soundtracks like “The trouble with Harry” by Hitchcock or “The night of the hunter” by Charles Laughton. I love the rich texture and the nostalgic atmosphere of classic cinema. This adds depth, elegance and nostalgia to my music and sends the listener’s imagination onto a longer journey than if I merely used “electronic sounds”. Along these lines, the heavy bass in “Stoichea Hadéen” consists of actual rhythms of insects, i.e. the mating dance of the peacock spider. And the background choir in “Insects” is in fact a traditional chant of the Aka pygmy tribe.
What would you say are your musical influences?
Henryk Górecki, Gustav Mahler, Les Baxter, Kate Bush, Arca, Machine Drum, Flying Lotus, Merzbow, Don Cherry, Glen Velez. As well as lots of traditional music and dance.
What’s the main message of Partura?
Partura does not have a “message” per se, it is more a screen shot of my feelings. To me, Partura is like an actual living being, it is something that I raise alongside me. I want to watch it grow and accompany it on its journey. After all, Partura is a bit like me, I guess: A little wild and untameable, with strong feelings.
How did the album cover come about?
I really love the “primal” atmosphere of the cover motif. Plus, this face seems so at peace. Ever since I discovered Adam Martinakis, the cover artist, I wanted to work with him. Our vision is similar. I can't precisely explain it, but when I saw his work, I immediately fell in love with it. It's like his images just...talk to me.
How was the making of the music video for “Feles”?
The video was filmed in my house and in a forest near my home in the Burgundy region in France. The cows and the dance part was filmed in the distant countryside of Bresse. The entire music video was shot and edited in two days...there was very little sleep and at some point, me and the editor were super tired, but the footage kept us awake - mostly from laughing so hard about it.
Which role plays dance in your music?
First of all, I am a dancer, so I do it as often as I find time. Dancing is also the inspiration for the rhythms and beats I use in my tracks. I feel that dance, the body and music are all equal parts of the same thing. For my upcoming music video for “Insects”, I am creating a choreography that tells a story about how human and insect behaviour relate to each other.
Do you have plans to present Partura live?
Yes, absolutely! Live on stage, I’d love to fully explore the visual aspect of the album by dance, decoration, lights, costumes and live instruments. One day, I would like to play my entire live set accompanied by a complete orchestra of traditional African instruments. But for now, putting together a live set including a laptop, controllers and Ableton Live already keeps me pretty busy.
Finally, what’s next for Mei?
Right now, I am working on new material: On several songs of my own, but also on some collaborative tracks with various interesting musicians and producers. The outcome will be released as an EP towards the end of the year - and it will feature a somewhat unlikely cover version that I am pretty sure will come as a bit of a surprise.