David Nance on Catherine Ribeiro + 2 Bis


Here we are, three months into 2024 and I’m woefully shy on new Hidden Gems, but we’re getting back into it this week with an excellent new entry from site favorite David Nance. David’s been a staple at the site for quite some time, working from the cathartic careen of his covers and early records up through this year’s slick studio stunner for Third Man Records. I asked Nance to dig into his own trove of favorites for a pick in the Hidden Gems series and he’s rifled back through his torrented past to find a psychedelic gem that’s stuck with him all these years later. Check out David’s exploration of Catherine Ribeiro + 2 Bis.

“In 2007, I was a wide eyed 20 year old, scouring internet forums and file sharing sites to hear wilder, more obscure sounds than the local record stores in Lincoln, NE could stock,” recalls Nance. “There were definitely heads around Nebraska clued into the hidden music of the world, but I hadn’t met any of them yet. Someone on Terminal Boredom( RIP) had posted about Catherine Ribeiro + 2 Bis and whatever the description was had me chomping at the bit. I remember making a special occasion of the first listen by putting a red lightbulb in the lamp of my studio attic apartment and drinking a bottle of cough syrup. Tacky environments aside, the music was unlike anything I had ever heard before; terrifying, honest, beautiful and extremely deep. The first listen still haunts me and I feel forever bound to this music.

Catherine Ribeiro + 2 Bis comes across as more of a tornado than an album, few points offering calm in the eye of the storm, but if you make to the end it feels like you braved something. CR+2B is (maybe?) the first collaboration between Ribeiro and Patrice Moullet, well known under the Catherine Ribeiro + Alpes moniker. Patrice’s importance to the sound of the album cannot be understated. Serving as music composer and band leader, Moullet is some sort of DIY genius, building the band’s sound upon classical guitar and a homemade, 20 stringed fretless guitar called “the Cosmophone”, (Later he builds a drum machine called “the Percuphone” that becomes essential to the band’s sound. There’s amazing footage of it online, too.).”

“The band was all born in France in the early 40’s during the Nazi occupation. Bombs, machine guns and fascist rule seem to be the biggest inspiration for the rhythm section. The music is singular and unto itself, but the reason I keep coming back is Catherine’s voice. She’s capable of anything, be it a celestial one-woman-choir or becoming a nuclear fucking missile. Maybe it comes from her Portuguese upbringing and the apparent Fado influence in her cadence. Regardless, she howls and moans unlike anyone else. I make music completely incomparable to Catherine, in the sense I couldn’t get anywhere near the dimension or stratosphere she’s writing in, yet her voice is always rattling around somewhere around my head.  Maybe I’m being unclear, but she’s my favorite singer. Still, this music will always be a hidden gem, as it’s too real for most. She sings the interconnected ennui undulating at the core of humanity. Seems like most people don’t want to hear that.”

This one’s a welcome head’s up, the kind of Hidden Gems I love in this column. While familiar with Catherine’s work with Alpes, I’d neglected to go further back to the beginnings and David’s urging towards Ribeiro’s roots has been nothing if not eye opening. While the Alpes, recordings are a bit easier to put hands on (thanks to some reissues from Anthology) the CR+2B proves a bit more elusive in the physical form. Streamers can delight, though, as it is available on most platforms. Take it from Nance, this one is worth seeking out — red light bulb and cough syrup optional. David Nance’s new album David Nance & Mowed Sound is out now from Third Man.

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