Alain Pierre

Des Morts (Of The Dead)

Finders Keepers • 1979

The album begins at a leisurely pace: Violins (or violas) are superimposed over a booming bass pad. Possibly a requiem, perhaps a soundtrack, but certainly the intro to »Des Morts«, the title tune of the documentary film of the same name by directors Jean-Pol Ferbus, Dominique Garny and Thierry Zéno. The three Belgians filmed this unusual and impressive documentary about death rituals around the world in 1979. The second part leads us to Thailand, to the Hmong, an indigenous people who play the traditional mouth organ Qeej and tell of the death of their ancestors. 

From the film’s soundtracks, musical interventions and skilful manipulations, Alain Pierre, who was responsible for the soundtrack at the time, collages and assembles an album that almost doesn’t want to be one. Unearthed by Finders Keepers, the deep-digging label avant la lettre, it allows us to immerse ourselves in the ceremonies even without seeing the film – which is hard to find anyway. In the manner of Alan Lomax’s ethnomusicological recordings, a panorama of long-forgotten (or previously unknown) folkloric cultural expressions emerges. How do we bid farewell to someone? How do we commemorate the dead? And what passage into the hereafter would we like them to have? Questions after questions that can definitely be answered with sound.