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Guillaume Gargaud, "She"

cover imageThe unobscured natural photography on the cover of this disc sets up what is contained within.  While the label is usually focused on the dark, opaque droning sounds, Gargaud’s contribution to Utech is much clearer and lighter, at least in relative terms.  Mixing abstract electronics with some occasionally plaintive guitar playing, it stays relatively warm and organic throughout, with a few intentional, but compelling bumps along the way.  At its core, it feels like a more stripped down version of Fennesz.


Utech Records

The comparison to Christian Fennesz is not just one of convenience though.  Both artists meld the abstract chaos of electronics with some pure and melodic guitar, allowing the timbre and color of the instrument to shine through the mire at times.  However, Gargaud is less focused on the complex composition techniques of Fennesz, and the result is a somewhat less nuanced and complex sound, but more of an improvisational one that allows more than a modicum of chance to come in.

Tracks like "Le Chien De Jose" push the guitar to the margins to focus on the electronics.  The tracks is focused initially on a quiet, distant hum that slowly comes into focus, high end digital tones, gurgling noises, and ultrasonic squeals eventually come in, with what sounds like it could be some extremely unconventional guitar riffs buried in the low end of the sonic spectrum.  "Clairiere" similarly keeps the guitar at bay by leading off with some subtle static and running water type sounds, a few shards of guitar tones buzz in and out, but the electronics stay the focus. 

"La Legende Du Scarabe" does feature some soft, untreated guitar notes, though they, along with electronic strings, pings, and organ tones, are all fed through a dubby echo chamber that allows each to just bounce around the mix into infinity.  The closing "Au Bord Du Lac" is similar, letting beautiful guitar notes shine through a hazy, opaque atmosphere of lush electronic tones.  "Mer Du Nord" is perhaps the most overt, letting the clear guitar strums dominate while organic, atmosphereic ambience subtly punctuate.

While the album never gets "harsh," both "Lumiere Froide" and "Emissaire" are perhaps the most pronounced, both being focused on a swirling mess of sounds that, at least in the microscopic sense, sound orchestral, but are so jumbled as to be less than discernable, the latter adds some vaguely kraut rock guitar soloing, albeit heavily treated and somewhat obscured by the chaos.

Once again I have to give kudos to Keith Utech for releasing yet another young project that, even without a major discography, has already developed a definite and specific sound and style.  While the label is mining somewhat consistent territory, it is widely encompassing enough that I know roughly what I will get with each new release, but it’s never a faceless or generic disc at all.



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The Locust

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Review of the Day

Cursor Miner, "Explosive Piece Of Mind"
Lo Recordings
This debut full-length from Rob Tubb, who must surely be Chichester's premier retro-electro crooner, follows his recent "Remote Control" single, also on Lo Recordings. While the electroclash cultural blip has made me wary of contemporary musicians who pay overt homage to the 1980s, I've plenty of time for those working in a more underground, principled, fashion (for example Gerhard Potuznik). Cursor Miner is definitely to be counted amongst the most interesting of such musicians, fabricating something original and fun from the lighter side of 1980s English synth-pop and the geeky, meticulous side of modern electronica.
Instead of just dropping a ponderous vocal on to a club-friendly beat, he deftly merges the electro-pop basics of warm, resonant keyboard riffs and fey vocals with up-to-the-minute production work that's manic and crisp. The package is completed by a nice line in retro-futuristic lyrics, most notably on the single "Remote Control" itself, which ironically feigns both wonder at, and fear of, modern technology.
Cursor Miner's music is a forward-looking form of nostalgia. The fact that he doesn't take the easy route of pure 1980s revivalism means probably won't get the following it deserves, but on the other hand, he won't end up eviscerated and embarrassed on the altar of mass whim like, say, Fischerspooner. Quite simply, this is an excellent album for fans of interesting electro-pop and one which brings something new to the game.



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