Charlemagne Palestine – “Cathedrale De Strasbourg” 2LP Album Review

Cathedrale de Strasbourg – Charlamange Palestine

Last week I found out that Charlemagne Palestine had a performance in St. Louis, 20 minutes away from me…but I missed it by a month.  As a long-time admirer, I was very disappointed needless to say because his performances are indeed rare.

So when Erratum was kind enough to send me this recording of Charlemagne performing in the Strasbourg Cathedral, that made up for the disappointment.

Cathedrale de Strasbourg was recorded at Strasbourg Cathedral in France on November 15, 2012.  This organ performance has finally been given a beautiful 2LP gate fold album release on Erratum Records.  Limited to 500 copies.

Charlemagne Palestine is a minimalist composer.  However, the word minimalism only suits him for so long in some cases.  In a recording like Cathedrale de Strasbourg, he begins with the minimal and ends up with the grandiose and abstract.

Ingram Marshall who wrote the liner notes from one of Charlemagne’s albums (not this one we’re reviewing) had a great quote in describing Charlemagne’s work; “After a while, the ear doesn’t distinguish between the notes that are sounded and those which are harmonics, generated by the natural resonance (they) just appear because of the acoustical situation.”

Around the 15 minute mark, the real organ trance begins and then continues to build and build until it reaches “otherworldly.”  A little while after that, Charlemagne manipulates the trance by selecting much shorter notes and changing longer notes.

Charlemagne’s magic isn’t simply in the notes he selects, but the likelihood of him knowing why he selects them and the effect they will have in their combination.  By the end of Cathedrale de Strasbourg, the listener is almost mentally drained from taking it all in.

This is a fantastic release and an important one in Charlemagne Palestine’s history. Moreover, once you hear this recording, you can’t help but imagine yourself inside this cathedral hearing the performance in real glory.

So, sit back, plan on playing this album from start to finish, imagine yourself in this wonderful French cathedral and envelop yourself within this trance that nobody but Charlemagne Palestine can create.

Cathedrale de Strasbourg,  an essential recording for any Charlemagne Palestine admirer is available now on Erratum Records, Double gate-fold LP, 500 copy limit.

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