Aguirre Records / Belgium / 2022 / 2LP
The Jericho project is fully in line with the approach of the La Nòvia collective from which it originates, a hub for like-minded musicians reinventing regional folk repertoires, marrying traditional French song with minimalism via the use of drone. Jericho is just one of many available permutations of La Nòvia members, with the line-up including Yann Gourdon, Clément Gauthier, Jacques Puech and Antoine Cognet – you could say it’s La Nòvia’s flagship, or super-group. There are no dramatic stylistic shifts here, this is a story of gradual evolution within parameters that Jericho, and La Nòvia, have set for themselves. That also applies to their interpretation of individual songs, which are largely traditional.
They can build from almost nothing to reach a furious, near-hallucinatory pitch, underpinned by Gourdon and driven higher by Cognet’s banjo and Gauthier and Puech’s cabrettes (Auvergnat bagpipes). Gauthier and Puech also sing in unison but drift marginally in and out of time with each other, creating a natural delay effect. Many of the songs slide into each other in long sequences, adding to the sense of disorientation; the one which runs from ‘Revenant Des Noces’ to ‘Trois Mariniers’ takes in both eerie, keening balladry and wild dances. When Jericho hit their stride at these moments – see also, especially, the glorious ‘Planh De la Madalena’ – they leave you feeling like you’re spinning forever, encircled by whirling bodies caught up in dancing mania.