“Ensorcelée” (French for “bewitched”), sang Daniel Bélanger in the early 1990s; the music fiend is likely to be bewitched and bedazzled listening to the crossing voices of Fabien Guidollet and Sammy Decoster, the two mist-shrouded sorcerers who make up Facteurs Chevaux. In the same song, Bélanger continued with “Sans calme et sans repos jamais” (“never at peace or at rest”). This is where the plans diverge, as Facteurs Chevaux induce much of both.
Decoster and Guidollet were both in the Parisian band Verone, founded by Guidollet and Delphine Passant. Decoster played side guitar for Ultra Orange and did two albums. The duo owes its name to Ferdinand Cheval, a postman by trade, who spent more than 30 years of his life building his “Palais idéal”, an art-brut monument in Hauterives, in the Drôme (the postman Cheval was the subject of a film by Nils Tavernier in 2018). It was at the Palais idéal, among other places, that Facteurs Chevaux wrote and composed the songs for Chante-Nuit, the album that follows La maison sous les eaux, released in 2016.
Facteurs Chevaux’s folk is distinguished by its minimalism. The vocal harmonies are soberly accompanied by guitar chords. The songs exude a timeless and decidedly rural languor; they seem to have traveled a long way, through mountains and valleys, to reach our ears. Unlike First Aid Kit’s Swedish sisters, who beautifully reproduce the sound of their Appalachian idols, Facteurs Chevaux create a mountain folk with its own singularity. The duo’s method of creation is perhaps more akin to the “imaginary folk” successfully advocated by the Slovenian group Širom – inspired by the bucolic environment of Slovenia, but without making traditional music.
An ethnomusicologist could probably distinguish between tradition and invention in the alpine folk of Facteurs Chevaux. The rest of us will simply find it authentically bewitching.