It’s a little bit tricky to pin down the Freedom To Spend label’s exact aesthetic. From the pastoral reveries of Ernest Hood to the oddball cosmic improv of Universal Liberation Orchestra, it’s the kind of fringe-dwelling, category-defying stuff that, at first blush, feels more like a fantasy than reality. But it’s all real, somehow — private press with the emphasis on private, like you’re eavesdropping on someone’s dreams.
Danielle Boutet’s Pièces is a perfect addition to the FT$ catalogue, offering an ice-frosted window into Quebec in the mid-1980s. Chilly marimbas, even chillier DX-7 synths, slightly menacing fretless bass, a female Gainsbourg muttering enigmatically in French … Again, it’s all hard to sum up or fit into any particular genre, though you might note post-punk impulses rubbing up against new age influences, minimalism meeting up with the Chanson tradition.
Whatever you hear, Pièces is a magnificent, bewitching collection — one that you sink deeper and deeper into as the LP progresses. By the time we reach the Philip Glass-y textures of its closer “14e siècle,” we’re fully immersed in a new, beautifully strange world, putting together the pieces of an unknowable mystery. | t wilcox