Collin was right about Ô Paon: profound dimensions of her art resist translation, even transliteration. Perhaps the most unfair dimension of her work that (almost) refuses to come across in recordings is the intensity of her performance. I still remember the first time I saw her play in the Port Warehouse in Anarcortes, during What the Heck? Fest (R.I.P.) in 2009. Through the floorboards, in punctuating silences, you could hear the water underneath shift about in the dark. But our eyes were transfixed ahead the entire time. What later on became Courses, which comes across mostly as an experiment in looping, in front of me live was a kind of incantatory exorcism. When Ô Paon’s set was over, I stepped out in silence with the audience and took a necessary smoke break. It felt like we had survived something. Unfortunately — for many artists, really — that kind of thing just can’t translate.
That being said, I think that Quatorze-Quinze Ans is the best translation of Ô Paon we have so far. Differing somewhat from her previous album Courses, the four songs here are less about building loops and cathartic outbursts, and more focused on deep tones, pulses, and slow, intimate revelations. They are naturalistic, wandering, and contemplative things. (Imagine perhaps the point at which Lucrecia Dalt and Pharmakon cross.) There are times that, in the short span of a song, they become terrifying spaces to inhabit. Then it’s appropriate that the thematic space Quatorze-Quinze Ans (as well as the recent Castrée graphic novel Susceptible) occupies is the tumultuous surrealism of being young while having to grow up: that is, a time that brutally resists translation and, too often, transliteration.
• Ô Paon: http://www.opaon.ca