First comes a buzzing of violins, then a light purring, a rhythmic motif, then synthetic notes, which are broken up as Catherine Major launches, with her noble timbre, “Bateau bleu”. Jeff Moran, Catherine’s lyricist and lover, turns the narrator into a maternal vessel, whose hold is the womb. There it is. Music lovers who follow Major know that she tackles vital subjects through her art. No risk of being confused by the content of the lyrics of Carte mère, Madame Major’s fifth album.
The change in modus operandi here lies more in the instrumentation. Putting aside the studio musicians whose contribution she had favoured until now (excepting drummer Martin Lavallée, who plays on six pieces), Major has taken the digital gamble. And since you don’t become Kaytranada in one click, she had to take the time to tame the sequencing, sampling and programming tools.
Catherine did not rule out the use of acoustics, however. In order to make her songs more calorific, she decided to dress them up with arrangements for a 70-piece orchestra, with a little help from Antoine Gratton. Then she had to find a symphony orchestra. The one in Bratislava, Slovakia, was available. It was the Spanish-born conductor David Hernando Rico who occupied the podium.
Catherine’s spicy pop lends itself beautifully to this electro-orchestral treatment. On “Claustrophobe”, for instance, the strings accentuate the anguish while the synthetic textures intensify the strangeness. Then, something rare in Major’s repertoire – “La panique” and “Moi non plus” could be directed at a dancefloor, given their strong rhythms and catchy rhymes.
This is a mature album, the fruit of a creator who has combined her compositional and performance skills with an unparalleled aesthetic flair. Welcome to Carte mère, Catherine Major’s motherboard marvel.