These days, chamber-music groups often move far beyond the traditional classical repertoire. From the Ebene Quartet's appropriation of jazz tunes to the Turtle Island Quartet's recent tribute to Jimi Hendrix, small ensembles are deftly side-stepping genre classification.
Brooklyn-based Missy Mazzoli and her ensemble Victoire fall solidly into this hard-to-define category with their debut album, Cathedral City. Though all of the members are classically trained, Mazzoli's music has been labeled chamber rock, indie classical, mimimalist, post-rock and even 'pseudo-classical'
Cathedral City is complex and imaginative, hooking the listener right at the beginning with the slow, meditative keyboard introduction to 'A Door Into the Dark' Mazzoli commands attention through every piece, tying the works together with close relationships in structure and sound. The eight tracks stand alone, but they flow organically into one another.
Mazzoli's music might come across as simplistic, and on one level it is: She uses manageable meters and sticks with basic harmonic building blocks. And if some of her techniques -- such as the use of spoken numbers in 'India Whiskey' -- are reminiscent of Philip Glass, it's because she borrowed the instrumentation of his ensemble as a starting point for herself. It might be tempting to cast Cathedral City into the minimalist camp, but the album is too subtle to pigeonhole.
Just when Mazzoli's sound begins to seem predictable, she tosses in something that snares the imagination. The title track, for example, is based on an uncomplicated melody, with musicians playing in unison. But the listener is drawn in by airy vocal samples and a gentle electro-beat. As the music pulses on, the voices become more prominent, almost masking the fact that the musicians have begun playing a fugue.
Is Victoire's music post-rock, post-mimimalist or pseudo-post-pre-modernist indie-chamber-electronica? It doesn't particularly matter. It's just good music. --NPR First Listen, Ashalen Sims, September 19, 2010
...Victoire, a quintet from Brooklyn, puts a progressive spin on the clarinet-violin-piano trio by adding keyboards, double bass, light IDM-inspired electronics, and the striking compositional voice of pianist Missy Mazzoli. In one fell swoop, the ensemble bypasses the low-end dilemma and breaks with the existing repertoire, in search of music that gives voice to a thoroughly post-classical age... Victoire worry at their motifs like difficult knots but ground them in relentless cadences. Within these strict parameters, they pack in an admirable variety of technique and emotional shading, from dawning unease to distressed inspiration. 'A Song for Mick Kelly' feels at once fretful and poised, with a violin sawing desperately against immovable electric guitar chords courtesy of the National's Bryce Dessner. 'A Door Into the Dark' is furtive but forceful, its layered motifs pausing, lunging boldly forward, scattering. On 'I Am Coming for My Things', violin tremolos dart around deep, even figures in the clarinet and crackling radio transmissions. The music settles down when the voices subside, implying a direct link between freedom from encroaching signals and serenity of mind. That's a timely preoccupation if ever one was-- privacy, after all, is also a relatively modern invention; one that is currently under duress. Decisively erratic and turbulently lyrical, Victoire condense moments of focused beauty and quiet conviction from the pandemic distractions of modern life. --Pitchfork.com, Brian Howe, December 1, 2010
Victoire is a new chamber-rock ensemble founded by composer/pianist Missy Mazzoli. The group,
recently dubbed 'an all-star, all-female quintet' by Time Out New York, is part chamber group and part DIY indie band, including everything in its sonic arsenal from winds and strings to keyboards and lo-fi electronics. Victoire performs Mazzoli's distinct blend of dreamy post rock, quirky minimalism and rich romanticism. Since forming in 2008 they have shared the stage with Tortoise, Twi the Humble Feather, Redhooker and many others, performing at top venues including New York's Le Poisson Rouge, Galapagos Art Space, Roulette, The Stone and the Whitney Museum, Chicago's Millennium Park, and the Bang on a Can Marathon. In spring of 2009 they became the first classical artist to be featured on 'eMusic.com Selects'. Cathedral City, Victoire's first full-length album, follows on the heels of the group s debut EP, A Door into the Dark, which was released in March 2009. Sonically, Cathedral City continues in the direction of its predecessor, with rich, dark textures, solipsistic harmonies, and sampling and electronics used to eerie effect. Cathedral City showcases a group that is mastering its sound, revealing the full extent of Mazzoli's sweeping artistic vision.