The restless Paul Régimbeau, aka Mondkopf, returns with another collaboration, this time with the Romanian filmmaker Diana Vidrascu. His lush Hands in the Dark debut How Deep Is Our Love? was created to accompany Vidrascu’s Franz Kafka adaptation Le Silence Des Sirènes, which portrays a young woman’s return to her childhood home of Martinique. The film has been lauded by reviewers for its entrancing clashes: biography and fiction, portrait and landscape, and improvisation and artifice rub up against one another throughout, as do myriad translations of Kafka’s source text. What emerges is a consideration of appropriation, commodification, and both personal and cultural identity.
Mondkopf applies similarly disparate techniques throughout his soundtrack, from the tumultuous downpour of rain that opens “Last Day on Earth” to the synths which gnaw at “Growing” and the sudden jolt of electricity at the close of “Death Is Not A Lover.” Motifs carry through and there are elements recognisable at the base of every track; all four rest on beds light as air, still discernible even as the artist’s baton brings everything else to fever pitch. Indeed, there is a delicacy of touch here that belies even the album’s noisiest passages – take “Growing” for example, whose ethereal whistles bloom like flowers in the sunshine despite the increasingly frantic threat posed by a pattern of synthesis that comes over like a feral pack of lopping shears after their bright, bobbing heads.
“Last Day on Earth” is rich with the humidity kicked up in its introductory storm and the cloak it provides – a barely discernible aura, not a recognisable sound – is its only true constant, drifting through and above without ever making contact. A stunning sunrise of an opening track, by turns heartbreaking and hopeful, its unstoppable surge is motored by a deceptively harsh guitar drone that only truly becomes evident as it fades. By then you’ll find you’ve been transported a world away without really knowing how you got there, so subtly does Régimbeau add the layers. If the track tells the story of a last day on earth, it also relays that of the first day elsewhere – an end and a beginning all at once, with the fear, hope, sadness and anticipation of the protagonist expressed with remarkable clarity.
At its darkest – take “Death Is Not A Lover” for example – How Deep Is Our Love? thrums with unease and uncertainty, but this is overcome by sheer force of will; never once does a track here end on anything else but a feeling of absolute freedom. In fact, all four long tracks on the album follow very similar paths and reflections abound throughout. Structurally speaking, “Death Is Not A Lover” is practically “Last Day on Earth” redux and “Inner Fire” mirrors “Growing” likewise. The differences are matters of tone and temperature; “Death is not a Lover,” for example, is several degrees cooler than its predecessor, and “Inner Fire” bursts with a steeliness that overpowers the nerves that hounded “Growing” with relative ease. All four are journeys, undoubtedly, and powerful ones at that. On How Deep Is Our Love? Mondkopf has absorbed the emotions of Vidrascu’s traveller remarkably well and scored them in wax with incredible clarity.