French Chamber-Folk Duo Racoon Racoon Offer Stunning New EP
There is no shortage of dusty harmonies and sprawling classical in the music landscape today (just look towards Angus & Julia Stone or Violents' latest project), but when you combine these efforts like Léa and Léo of Racoon Racoon have, you get something more mesmerizing than magic.
The simple explanation of, we're sure, a much more complicated story, is that the two French singer-songwriters met at university, fell in love, and started playing music together. After traveling for a few years, they've since settled in the mountains of Italy and recorded both their EPs in Brussels. The duo's wanderlust is apparent in their music, touched by a thoughtful worldliness you can hear in their vast arrangements. We asked Léa and Léo about the record and here's what they told us:
Earlier this year, Racoon Racoon released their second EP, Dawn Chorus, just over twenty minutes of decadent, intimate chamber-folk ballads and instrumentals. The record begins with its title track, flavored with zest and an almost tropical energy before we're treated to our first taste of Léa and Léo's honeyed harmonies leading over wailing strings and organic croaks of percussion. "Grace" is next, perhaps the album's standout track. Those gorgeous harmonies are center-stage here against a sparse arrangement of Italian-influenced string flutters and trills before deep blooms of bass join in as haunting vocals sing "What else should I have done to make you stay?" hopelessly, washed out by the surge of waves. "Hunting Demons" follows suit, opening with those same waves but joined by a menacing piano slow-burn, grave bass boom, and an utterly enchanting swell of classical strings. Though the track clocks in at under two minutes, it's a stunning instrumental break in the EP.
On "Little Sparrow," Léa leads this time, her sweet vibrato reaching for fuzzy falsetto above the twinkle of keys and warbling strands of strings echoing behind the vocals. Léa is joined halfway by Léo, their voices merging melodiously during this warm, fragile little epiphany of a song. "Smokescreen" cuts the record, another instrumental that begins first with a piano line that calls to mind the early morning dawn, amber hues lost in the fog. Following that brief piece comes a dark chamber arrangement, rich and cinematic in its morose crescendo. On "Walls," Racoon Racoon offer a murky folk track home to their signature harmonies but this time featuring the twangy pluck of mandolin and quick bursts of violin. Dawn Chorus is complete with its last instrumental, the dazzling "Rue De Nuits." A late-night bittersweet piano line opens the track (accompanied by a quiet rush of trickling rain) before the arrangement moves in a more frantic, eerie direction. More than halfway in, the piano rhythm grows with creeping urgent sparkles as looming strings make a few brief appearances before vanishing as quickly as they came in. It's just the kind of sinister, vibrant conclusion that makes us so in awe of Racoon Racoon.
Dawn Chorus, though fleeting, is sublime in its chamber-folk experimentation. Dreamy harmonies lead each stunning song, accompanied by thoughtfully curated classical arrangements that abound in theatrics. The instrumentals evoke arguably more feeling than the tracks with vocal and lyric parts; the moments we have with just those multi-instrumental swells, though ephemeral, are so heartbreakingly lovely that a minute here or a minute there offers unforgettable emotion.
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Featured photo by Julien Fourcade.