THE SANDMAN’S ORCHESTRA is a duo made up of Pierre Laplace, a singer-songwriter from Lille, France, and his 17-year-old niece, Léonie Gabriel. The story of the duo started in May 2010 when, after a family lunch, 15-year-old Léonie picked up a guitar and started singing a few covers. Everybody was astounded by the beauty of her voice, and her uncle Pierre Laplace immediately proposed that they work on some songs together.
Pierre was the singer in cult French band Vera Clouzot, who from 1994 to 2004 released 4 albums, played numerous concerts including support slots with Jeff Buckley and Smog, and appeared on the American Music Club tribute album “Come On Beautiful” alongside Lambchop, Calexico and Matt Ward.
The duo released their 1st album “Silver Linings” in June 2011, while “Nocturne,” their new 10-track LP has just been released worldwide through Bandcamp, CDbaby, iTunes and Amazon.
These songs on “Nocturne” utilize beautiful organically-driven music, raw emotion, and lyrical poetry to surreally address a wide array of issues. The duo’s style is uniquely their own, and the contrasts between soft piano-playing and emotional outbursts of strident notes, instruments, and words are incredible. Young artists are hardly able to bare their souls through music as forcefully as Léonie does here. This is quickly exemplified from the very first track “Razor Eyes.”
The songs on the album are about self-discovery, empowerment, dreaming, love, and courageously finding one’s inner-voice and taking control of your life. These songs may mean different things to different people, and it is almost impossible not to discover new hidden insights each time you listen to them.
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Léonie Gabriel is an artist whose voice offers a remarkable honesty and beauty. Here she is also complemented by lovely orchestrations and lyrics that tantalize with their complex imagery. This obviously brings us to the other half of The Sandman’s Orchestra, or rather Pierre Laplace.
Pierre is fundamental in making this album reach the artistic heights it does. Not only did he sing on, write, and produce the album, but he actually played a wide variety of instruments on it, including: guitar, banjo, piano, wurlitzer, kalimba, dulcimer, keyboards, percussion, and stylophone.
Laplace’s sparse and almost ethereal, emotionally gripping, thought provoking and completely original pieces of work absolutely blew me away. In a time when overblown and over-produced music is constantly flooding the market, Pierre’s orchestrations leave you room to breathe, to ponder, to assimilate and to thoroughly digest the compositions. Not least, Pierre Laplace adds the final touches, by delivering his Nick Drake influenced vocals on some of the tracks.
As far as trying to pick a favorite track, or mentioning any highlights, would be almost impossible and probably unfair, because every song is great in its own unique way. But each song becomes even greater when listened to within the complete context of the album. Forced to mention a couple of tracks, it would be: “Shades Of The Past,” “On A Cloud,” “Wildfires Of The Mind,” “Russian Doll,” and “Nocturne,” all which form the beating heart of the album.
There’s something magical about “Nocturne,” which is too difficult to describe with only words. Just listen to it yourself. If you aren’t moved, you’d better check your pulse-rate.
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