Anne Laplantine: A Little May Time Be

Though she has recorded for different labels under different guises (as Michiko Kusaki for Vienna-based Angelika Köhlermann, as Angelika Köhlermann and Anne Hamburg for Tomlab, and under her given name for Autopilot), Anne Laplantine apparently hasn't released a new record for a few years, making the Ahornfelder release somewhat of a minor event. Laplantine, who has called Vienna, Cologne, Hamburg, Berlin, and Paris home at one time or another, brings a similarly cosmopolitan sensibility to the harmonically dense miniatures collected on A Little May Time Be.

In scattering thirty-four interludes of so-called “silences” (ranging from four to twenty seconds in length) amongst the album's twenty-four musical settings, Laplantine brings an unusual structural concept to the album. As a result, it unfolds in stops and starts, with musical pieces interrupted by interludes that aren't in fact silent but instead filled with ambient noise, hiss, and clatter. When a given song does appear, it does so briefly, with Laplantine opting for one- to two-minute running times for the songs. Her approach to the album's music is distinctive too. She creates bright, electronic pop miniatures by arranging samples of flute, guitar, bass, glockenspiel, melodica, etc. into polyphonic, quasi-classical vignettes that ultimately resemble Baroque pieces more than conventional pop songs. Though electronics figure into her production methods, the materials she draws upon for the songs' sounds are largely acoustic, making for a warm, lo-fi, and natural-sounding result (the old-school drum machine beats that colour many songs add to the album's lo-fi character).

After the two opening pieces, “April” and “Walking,” weave guitar melodies into bright settings of gentle counterpoint, there follows five tracks totaling thirty-five seconds of field noise and hiss, after which the eighth and ninth pieces, “Oui” and “Outside,” resume the musical material's journey. The connecting songs “Rev” and “Where It Goes” present a charming pop vocal song animated by propulsive drum machine pitter-patter whose brightly-coloured treatment infuses the material with a carousel-like feel. The jauntily chiming “Dicedays” likewise exudes a high-spirited jubilance. Elsewhere, jittery guitar fragments dart rapidly about like startled fishes in an aquarium in “Nawak,” “Moved” assembles clipped fragments into classical form, and the lilt of “Jump” is bolstered by a ramshackle beat accompaniment. At times the material moves away from song structure altogether and plunges into experimental territory, as attested to by the cut-up voice fragmentations that dominate the free-wheeling “With Voice” and “Voice Voice and So.” In such cases, the lines separating the musical pieces and the silences begin to blur. Ultimately, A Little May Time Be registers as an eccentric, even slightly oddball recording, though the term is meant not so much derogatorily but more as a term of endearment.

October 2009