Fernando Corona isn’t exactly known for hitting listeners over the head with his productions, but even for the man known professionally at Murcof, The Versailles Sessions is a rather spacious- and empty-sounding release. While previous Murcof releases have sampled minimalist and choral works to fit into overriding electronic textures, there is nary a trace of techno to be found on the slowly unfolding arias and harpsichord solos here.
It’s a bit jarring, at first, to hear such natural ambience left in the sampled recordings on a Murcof piece. Every bit of acoustic material on Versailles betrays its live origins, and Corona is reserved, nearly to a fault, in interfering electronically with the final product. The original melodies of baroque composers come through crystal clear, though the instruments might be fed through a low-pass filter or ring modulator. Rather than create entirely new pieces out of sampled material, as he’s done on his previous albums, Corona is acting more as a collaborator, the catalyst to a record of familiar pieces played in unfamiliar ways.
As the album’s liner notes make clear, The Versailles Sessions is an artifact from a series of live performances, and should not be considered a proper follow-up to the last Murcof album, Cosmos. Listeners familiar with Corona’s micro techno spiced with orchestral flourishes will be surprised by the extreme emptiness and traditional arrangements found here, but, even if only as a curio, it’s an interesting flipside to Corona’s minimal productions.