Switzerland-based experimental music project Mademoiselle Plume Rouge have recently unveiled their most ambitious and politically charged work to date, “Horror Politics.” Released in November 2022 under the Italian label, Signora Ward Records, the album weaves a powerful narrative critiquing the rise of conservative, authoritarian, and far-right ideologies on the global political stage.
Founded in 2018, the dark doom jazz duo, composed of Stéphane Povitch Augsburger and Frédéric Minner, have carved a niche with their experimental soundscapes and thought-provoking themes. Their latest album continues this trend, infusing elements of experimental and contemporary music, doom, dark jazz, free jazz, and noise – all painting an ominous atmosphere akin to German expressionist silent films or an apocalyptic horror movie.
“Horror Politics” consists of two elaborate pieces: “A Shadow over the Parliament” and “Black Mass in the Senate.” These compositions map the disheartening rise to power of oppressive ideologies and their pervasive corruption of political systems.
The duo’s members, Stéphane “Povitch” Augsburger and Frédéric Minner, are seasoned musicians with a deep commitment to their craft. Povitch, a guitarist, pianist, and writer, has a rich history of touring across Europe and the USA with the band What’s Wrong With us?. Minner, a bassist and saxophonist, has played in various metal, jazz, and experimental bands and is a member of the Insub Meta Orchestra.
Mademoiselle Plume Rouge’s “Horror Politics” boldly confronts the unsettling realities of the contemporary political landscape. The album is not only a testament to their musical ingenuity but also a poignant commentary on the world’s unfolding events. With their unique blend of dark doom jazz and socio-political themes, the duo continues to challenge conventions and provoke thought among listeners.
“Horror Politics” is composed of two musical arrangements that provide a potent critique of conservative, authoritarian, anti-liberal, and far-right ideologies, which have been alarmingly gaining prominence in global politics, often with devastating outcomes, a case in point being the ongoing conflict in Ukraine instigated by Russia.
The first piece “A Shadow over the Parliament” foreshadows the rise to power of these ideologies. The first movement, a menacing birthday chant sung by children announces the rebirth of old far-right ideologies, the second movement consists of anguished saxophones and guitars lamenting over a world regressing towards intolerance and hate, the third movement with its free jazz and heavy metal energy expresses resentment and anger, the final movement uses an extract of Ezra Pound reciting his poem “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley” where the poet expressed his disillusionment and bitterness about the world and himself, which led him to embrace far-right ideologies.
The second piece “Black Mass in the Senate” describes the corruption of political systems by far-right ideologies infiltrating them. In the first movement melancholic saxophones and ambient guitars announce the black mass, the second movement is the mass itself, represented by deep voices summoning evil entities and the final movement consists of desperate saxophones and ambient noises conjuring an end of the world atmosphere where these ideologies dominate.
The artwork for the covers of the digital album and the vinyl was made by the Swiss graphic designer Alexis Sgouridis who took inspiration from the drawings of the Austrian artist Alfred Kubin (1877-1959), as well as film posters from expressionist German silent movies, and the totalitarian visual propaganda of the 30’s.
The pencil drawing made by Alexis Sgouridis is an illustration of the first track title: A Shadow over the Parliament.
“Horror Politics” is a sonic tapestry that interweaves the menacing ambiance of German expressionist silent films with the audacious hues of dark jazz, doom metal, free jazz, noise, and experimental contemporary music, creating a soundscape reminiscent of an impending apocalyptic horror.
The album, a labor of love, was brought to life in the capable hands of Antoine Petroff at Studio Silo in Switzerland, refined under the meticulous ear of Nick Foglia at Rubedo Recordings, Italy, and co-produced by the illustrious freddie Murphy of Father Murphy, who had previously lent his expertise to Mademoiselle Plume Rouge’s inaugural album, “Junkie Movie Music”. Final mastering touches were bestowed by John Dieterich of Deerhoof.
Dark jazz or doom jazz, though diverse in its manifestations, is unified by its distinct elements: cinematic, noirish atmospheres evocative of David Lynch films, a languid pace, and the utilization of jazz idioms. Bohren & der Club of Gore’s 2002 release, “Black Earth”, is perhaps the genre’s most recognizable work, its haunting sonic architecture left an indelible impression.
More recently, The Lovecraft Sextet‘s album, “Miserere”, has made waves with its uncanny fusion of dark jazz, black metal, and liturgical music, enveloping listeners in an ethereal, horrifying ambiance.
In the realm of dark jazz, the Italian label Signora Ward Records, which released “Horror Politics“, holds a prestigious position.
The brainchild of the prolific musician Adriano Vincenti, the label is home to groundbreaking dark jazz artists such as Macelleria Mobile di Mezzanotte and Senketsu No Night Club. As a luminary in the genre, the label has churned out a plethora of well-received compilations, the latest being “Drinking at Midnight,” testifying to the genre’s pulsating vitality.