The mellow fruits of a long-term, long(ish)-distance collaboration between Paris natives Delphine and Mocke, who now respectively reside in Brussels and the "deepest French countryside", Le Corps défendant is an unorthodox, Arcadian folk-rock masterpiece come out of the woods to steal our hearts and minds. Yes, we will always have a terrible weakness for smoky female vocals and lingering modal melodies - can't help it - and this record hits the same sweet spot as two of our other favourite 2017 releases, namely Brannten Schnure's Muschelsammlung and Holidays' reissue of Maria Monti's stunning Il Bestiario. Like those two records, L.c.d. is an unusually urbane, jazz-damaged take on misty, mystic pastoralism, nestling free improvisation inside carefully and concisely wrought arrangements (whether or before or after the fact).
Mocke's guitar is a constant, his bruised, minimalistic parts - both electric and unplugged - effortlessly shifting from courtly, Renbournish folk-rock impressionism to the radiant melancholy of Loren Connors and deeper shades of (un)American primitive. Dora's vocals, beautiful but not a little unnerving, oscillate between hypnotic, possessed-by-god-knows-what glossolalia, to pseudo-medieval plainchant, amounting to a kind of white-witch chanson that feels free and unforced: we're in the realm of Nico's Desertshore, Emmanuelle Parenin, Norma Winstone, Rose McDowall's Sorrow.
Voice and guitar are merely the most persistent and easily identifiable elements of a richly detailed and at times supernatural-seeming sound-world of chimes, violin, woodwind, pianos, field recordings and numerous other things that go plink and ding and thwung in the night. Its just-so organic palette is close in spirit to Jam Money's A Gathering Kind, but also Robert Wyatt and Eno and Talk Talk, while the eerie fairytale quality of it all makes me think of Ksiezyc - but perhaps that's just because my grasp of French is as poor as my grasp of Polish (Dora could be singing about her iPhone for all I know).
2x10" with beautiful artwork by Gwenola Carrere, don't even worry about it.