Although limited to a mere 150 copies, Guillaume Gargaud's wonderful Le Lieu is the type of record that deserves a large-scale release. This is a magnificent drone album that ranks among the best I have heard. Armed with only a "prepared" guitar and a computer, France's Gargaud has created an inspired and inspiring mood piece that is a joy to behold. You'll want to find yourself a pitch black room and a comfortable chair so you can best immerse yourself in the atmospheric bliss that comprises Le Lieu.
The record begins with its most intense composition, the eleven minute "Téphrosia." Soaked in a reedy electronic hum, it introduces a dense, pulsing drone that is somehow dark and tense, yet miraculously calming. There is a sense of something brooding - a brittle image of the unknown lurking under the surface - yet the result is meditative in a manner akin to Biosphere's work. Similarly dense and bass-heavy is "Mille plis," a hazy mass with an oddly regal glow. On a different note, "Au milieu" is clicky and finicky, drenched in reverb but strangely anxious and a tad overwhelming. A similar formula is employed on tribal "Le lieu" which makes use of acoustic guitar and woodwinds to build towards a wonderful climax. However, the album's hidden treat is the brief "Les feuilles des forêts vierges," a composition so overwhelmingly haunting that you'll want to leave a nightlight on.
This recording proved to be a real gem for me. Limited-edition drone albums have reached Starbucks-calibre ubiquity on today's music scene it seems, but it is rare for one disc to be so exceptional. Dark, cinematic, and unfailingly emotional, Guillaume Gargaud's Le Lieu has solidified its place as one of my favourite releases of 2008. Very recommended for serious music fans.