Tag Archives: Steppe

Albums Worth Listening to: Rene Aubry, Steppe

12 Oct




Rene Aubry is a soundtrack composer that I’ve found very interesting lately.   Soundtrack composer isn’t the best description for him, for he also writes music for puppet shows and modern dance as well as other projects.  However, he’s too accessible to be called art music, and he’s certainly trying to do more than be a modern classical composer.   There’s a lot of composers I don’t like–because their music is always hung on the hook of another work, and while I think it’s perfectly adequate for that purpose, it’s not very interesting to listen to without the movie/dance/whatever that goes along with it.

Aubry manages to get beyond that so that his albums are complete works in themselves.   Steppe comes of as a theme album focusing on horses–even though it’s called steppe–which gives it a grasslandsy vibe.   He has an interesting combination of synthesized and organic instrumentation which gives an “everything but the kitchen sink” sort of feel, while still being melodic.   Each song is 5 minutes or less, and he plays heavily with counterpoint layering theme after theme on top of each other, setting up a horsehoof rhythm in all the songs but a couple of slower numbers.   Since quite a few of the songs fade in and fade out, we’re left with an impression of different things passing us by, ideas running, walking, gliding like dream horses.   He also uses the sounds of waves, running water, a whip, whispers, banjo, piano, mandolin, accordion, guitar and nearly every other instrument imaginable.

These soundscapes are luxurious and exotic, each bringing you to a new imaginary place–the effect is very much like Air with less singing, a fantasia of slow still places.    More interesting than ambient, less flaky than new age, less structured than classical–Aubry find a nice balance for a relaxing soundtrack.