Nigredo – ‘Lunas Negras’

Posted by on October 7, 2015


The return to paganism, a pagan spiritual universe, conscious or otherwise, is a frequent phenomenon in the contemporary cultural universe — its effect is huge, and its interpretation a key theme these days. That context is animalistic, and despite its sensuality negotiates a deep discomfort. Nigredo is a spectacular free-jazz / improv noise ensemble — featuring vocals from Géraldine Célérier Eguiluz, violincello from collaborator Stéphane Diamantakiou, support for her and violin courtesy of Marie-Lys Trudel, and Jean René on alto violin — sprung from the cosmopolitan tangle of Montreal and their name itself leaves no doubt about what they propose: stemming from  the deliberate rendering of materials in alchemy, the term in psychology is a metaphor for the experience of blackness, when an individual confronts the shadow within.

Their Lunas Negras (“Black Moons”) cassette for Small Scale Music is described on Bandcamp: in translation,  “Lunas Negras is inserted into the soundscape of Montréal, in resonance with today’s world, terrifying and [bearing]  hope…” That ‘terror’ is kept close at hand in the group’s tense, anxious experimental jazz, well executed movements that for me hit an emotional peak on tracks like “Memento,” when the omnipresent atonal melody and strings tumble toward haunted laugh-screams from singer Géraldine. Elsewhere, on “Les pleurs de la riviere,” the hope of purification grows but it isn’t time yet, and Géraldine’s slashing voice returns with spine-chilling strings, ever-present to recall for the listener that this world is a heavy stone upon one’s shoulders.

The lyrics on Lunas Negras are all based on poems by Frederico Garcia Lorca, which, in the band’s words, “seeks among youthful memories and the river of the ancestors that flows through our veins, to discover the power of what was hidden.” The mysterious life, work, and death of Lorca itself bears close connection with the neo-pagan movement and its links to socialism, obscured only in the decade after. Though I wouldn’t say Lunas Negras was focused on sadness or melancholy, it’s about experience and history, and I can’t help  thinking about Christianity and its realms of penitence, forgiveness, and resurrection. The feeling contained here is different, a daunting challenge to see one’s self and to contemplate its nature.

Lunas Negras by Nigredo is available in a limited edition (100 copies) cassette through Montreal’s Small Scale Music.