Félicia Atkinson is a musician and visual artist who graduated from Beaux-Arts de Paris. Known primarily for her work as Je Suis Le Petit Chevalier, A Readymade Ceremony finds her abandoning some of the warmer indie and psych trappings of that project for experiments in texture, laptop-based electronic noise, and textual cutup techniques. The results are mostly very positive.
Described as a “concrète/post-digital oratorio in five parts,” the album was composed and recorded at home in the French Alps and on the Oregon coast. In order to reaffirm the importance of D.I.Y. in her creative process and her desire to divorce the process from preconceived spaces like galleries and recording studios, only a laptop and the most basic of software was utilized in its creation. Spoken and sung bits in French and English are taken from a variety of sources, including extracts from Improvising Sculpture as Delayed Fictions (Félicia Atkinson, 2014), Recherche de la Base et du Sommet (René Char, 1955), and Madame Edwarda (Georges Bataille, 1937), along with some random texts lying around while Atkinson was playing, mostly from the Italian magazine Mousse.
The standout track is “L’oeil,” where Atkinson breathes a hushed, intimate intonation into Georges Bataille’s visceral, erotically charged writing, all while static and noise swells, swirls, and shifts over a 10-minute-plus runtime. The instrumental “Carve the Concept and the Artichoke” is another favorite, in which an opaque and mysterious dark-ambient soundscape gives way to discordant, abrasive piano and drum machines in a way that wouldn’t sound out of place in a classic horror or suspense movie.
The emphasis on French literature stretches back to an interest Atkinson’s been developing since her teens, a period in which she also first became aware of some of the musical influences heard on this record, such as John Cage and Morton Feldman. It is in this regard that A Readymade Ceremony is most interesting. By reexamining influences from her past, Atkinson has managed to create a record that represents a stark forward progression from her earlier works.
A Readymade Ceremony is available now from Shelter Press.