InteReview: Light’s “The Path”

Light, The Path, January 8, 2023
Tracks: Seekness (14:15), Cornua (1:31), The Sweet Release Of Death (5:04), Blue Sun (8:38), Tibia (1:19), Betray (3:13), Newts (6:44), Electris (1:40), The Sublimation Of An Oak (4:13), Tympana (1:23), Dive (13:57), Chalemia (1:47), Mesmerize (3:12), Burning Birds (7:12), Lux Æterna (3:24)

Light is the brainchild of Toulouse, France, based artist Camille De Carvalho, who wrote The Path together with Auriann Rossard, Loup Vaillant, and Paul-Henry Touzac. Carvalho plays an astounding number of instruments on the record, from keyboards to clarinet to duduk and everything in between. She’s joined by a talented cast of other musicians providing additional orchestral work as well as guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. The record is a unique blend of prog, jazz, and classical, leaning most heavily on the symphonic with a distinctly modern flair.

“Blue Sun” perhaps best exemplifies what Light does best. The symphonic overtones dominate, but the overall sound gradually builds adding in the rock elements as it crescendos in a King Crimson-esque wall of controlled chaos. The vocals come in after the midway point, adding further depth to the sound. As the record moves along, the vocals increase, typically in a more classical form than the lead vocals to which rock listeners might be accustomed.

The album’s mix is very lush, with the varied instruments all sounding clear in the mix. There’s a lot of depth to the overall sound as well, making it a very immersive experience.

The Path is an album that will stretch the typical prog fan’s ears, but there is much to enjoy in this album.

Progarchy got the chance to interview Light mastermind Camille about her recent release and what it took to make this project a reality.

You released an album in January 2023 entitled “The Path” How do you feel about the release? 

I’m very excited ! I’ve been working on this for 14 years, almost half of my life !

I’ve spent so much time and money in it, it’s really strange to see it done. I thought (and many of my friends too) that I’d never finish it, that I’d always find something to change, to add, to tweak… Having now the CD in my hands feels unreal.

How much of a challenge was it to work on the album?

It was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. Basically, I wanted to write for orchestra, but I had no orchestra and the ones I contacted were not interested.

I had to learn to play around 100 instruments, spend all my evenings playing, writing, practicing or reading books about how to write for all of these instruments.

And then when I met the first persons interested by the project, I had to manage the recordings, the rehearsals, the writing of the lyrics, the communication…

It was really a lot, but I stayed determined.

Speaking of challenges, did you set any in the early phase of what has become the final result?

Yes, at the very beginning, the challenge was to record an album featuring only keyboards (then I heared White Noise 2, hated it, and decided it was a bad idea)

Also, every piece I wrote was challenging : there’s always a point where I tell myself «and what if, instead, I did this ?» and it’s always some horrible over complicated polyrythm, or scale… the piano part of Dive, for example, is really a nightmare to play. I wrote it in 2010, and managed to play it in 2020, after years of working on my fingers independance and stamina

Tell us about the different instrumental aspects that you explore on these new songs.

I tried to mix a lot of genres, mainly prog rock but also jazz, classical and a little bit of metal. But the main way I see my music is that I want to write impossible things.

Apart from the interludes and maybe one or two simple tracks, all are impossible to play live as is : it can be because of the polyrythms (particularly the infamour 107:100:93 in Blue Sun, or the 48:47 in The Sublimation of an Oak), the time signatures (I used some things like 61/32 and 47/16), or the instruments’ balance : as every instrument is recorded separately, I can make the ocarina sound louder than the trombone for example, and it’d be impossible in real life. I wanted to push the complexity as far as I could, but keep “listenable” by anyone. I don’t want my music to be seen as really harcore to listen to, even though I love some pretty hardcore bands. I want people to groove, in a way, when they listen to it. To think it’s strange, but in a good way.

I love math, and used a lot of formulas or concepts to create a starting point for the tracks. I don’t let math do all the work, because I didn’t like the results obtained by the people who tried it; I only use it as a basis and it’s often a challenge to adapt to what it has created, because it doesn’t follow musical logic. I drew explanation for the things I used and put it in the booklet, you can try to decypher it and find how it has helped me.

Also, all the interludes are inspired from plain chant, a singing technique used by monks in medieval times. I love it ! And it’s so rarely used

What is your opinion about the current progressive rock scene? 

I must confess I don’t listen to enough new bands, there are so much things to discover in the past I tend to forget the present ! But still, Auriann, the drummer of the band, is constantly searching for new music and dragging me to shows so I know some, like Ni, PoiL, Piniol, Pryapisme, Sungazer, Haken, Myrath… I think prog rock never died and will never die, and now with modern techniques and instruments, we can push the music further than ever. You have to search for them, but there are really good bands currently.

Let us know about your influences—the artists that in a way shaped and continue to shape the your music.

Haha it’s hard to answer without being boring so I’ll limit myself, but I have to categorize : 

In classical music, I’m really fan of the beginning of the 20th Century : Ravel is my first love, Holst the reason why I’m not single anymore, and Lili Boulanger my current obsession.

For rock, my 2 main and most obvious inspirations are Magma and Frank Zappa, and I’m a huge fan of Gentle Giant, King Crimson and all the 70’s era.

For jazz, I’d say that Coltrane, John Zorn, Andy Emler and Louis Amrstong shaped my tastes, even if their influence isn’t as prevalent as Zappa’s or Holst’s in this album

What are your top 5 records of all time?

Hard question, I think it is for everyone. I think the best way to answer it is with rare unknown albums, as they’re better to help understanding the tastes of someone. So yes, I could say Relayer by Yes, or Kid A by Radiohead and sure, they’re great, but it’s also obvious that I love them.

Here is my pick : 

1 – “Everywhere At The End of Time”, by The Caretaker : my biggest musical shock, an album about dementia ; you can’t stay the same after you’ve listened to this madness

2 – “Trout Mask Replica”, by Captain Beefheart : well known, but I had to. A lesson in what is freedom, and music. Try again if you hate it : you’ll get it (eventually)

3 – “8”, by Supersilent : it’s an improvisation band, without any planning or concertation. First time I listened to this, I was at work : the walls and roof disappeared and I suddenly was in a cold storm, completely lost. My tasks did not progress after that

4 – “Rire, c’est pas sérieux”, by Raoul Petite : I love Zappa but as english is not my main language, I don’t always understand the lyrics. Well if you love Zappa but speak french primarily, there’s Raoul Petite for you

5 – “Circus”, by Circus : this album taught me something very important : to shut up. Sometimes, there are unexpected silences in their music, and it creates a very peculiar atmosphere that can be mimicked by nothing else. I can’t say I used it in my album, at all, but I will probably in the future

Besides the release of “The Path” are there any other plans for the future?

I’ve already started to write the concept of the next album, which will be greatly inspired by the life of Lili Boulanger (and her music).

Also, a music video will be released with the album, and I have a few covers I still have to finish recording, as they were rewards of the Kickstarter campaign. I’m currently working on Shine On You Crazy Diamond, it’s nearly finished ; it’ll contain no guitar, no bass and no drums… you will see!

Check out Light and The Path on Bandcamp:


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