Tout Seul Dans la Forêt en Plein Jour, Avez-Vous Peur?

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Geneviève Castrée is a poet, illustrator, and musician, and as Woelv, she uses all three disciplines. Her debut, Pamplemoussi, accompanied a book of her dark, fable-like comics; her second album (and first for K Records), Tout Seul Dans la Forêt en Plein Jour, Avez-Vous Peur? -- which translates to "alone in the forest in the middle of the day, are you scared?" -- is a collection of songs embellished with illustrations, but Pamplemoussi's eerie, searching atmosphere remains, and in fact goes deeper. With these songs, Castrée attempts to put faces and voices on horrors that seem too great -- starvation, rape, war -- to fully comprehend. She layers and loops her voice over and over, evoking the album's cover illustration of multiple Castrées blindfolded in the forest, calling out to each other. That Castrée sings only in French doesn't prevent her messages from coming through clearly -- there are multilingual translations in the album's liner notes, and her vocals are remarkably expressive. Many descriptions of Woelv's sound focus on how delicate it is (and there are moments of utter fragility here), but much of Tout Seui is vulnerable but impassioned, bordering on furious. On "Drapeur Blanc" (White Flag), Castrée's shouts sound almost pretty but never lose their impact, thanks to the martial drums that build around her. "La Petite Cane Dans la Nappe de Petrole," "La Mort et le Chien Obèse," and "Sous Mon Manteau" feel like songs for preparing for battle, even if it's battling against the world's injustices, with Castrée's vocals ringing out clearly against tribal, distorted drums that recall the Microphones and Mount Eerie's more violent side (which makes sense, since Castrée recorded Tout Seui with Phil Elverum). The album's gentler moments are still resolute; even though Castrée's voice trembles on "Au Viol!," it never sounds tentative, and "Homme Qui Vient de Marcher Sur une Mine" (The Man Who Has Just Stepped Onto a Land Mine)'s soft melody contrasts with its inherent violence. The title track closes with nine minutes of rustling wind, leaving Castrée's listeners alone with the difficult issues and unsettling images she brought up over the course of Tout Seul Dans la Forêt en Plein Jour, Avez-Vous Peur? Her gentle, insistent way of questioning the way things are hits hard.

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