Monday, March 16, 2009
Enfer Boreal - The Birth of Venus (Stunned Records CD-R)
Just published at Brainwashed:
With a slew of recent releases on homespun label luminaries such as Housecraft, Tape Drift, Peasant Magik and now Stunned, France's Enfer Boreal (aka Maxime Primault) has been hard to ignore of late. That he is partaking in Stunned's glorious first anniversary run is testament to the successes of both parties this past year and to honor it he releases one his best yet, a moist and brittle set of drones which far outshine the too often pallid results achieved by less finely attuned tacklers of texture.
On this unfortunately limited morsel, Primault takes the warm and gushy drone approach often squandered by lesser tacklers of texture and infuses it with his own distinct organicism. Where many opt for clear and rich synthesizer squelching, his is a mellow and moist drone that slips inside the earlobes with ease despite the work's deeply detailed nature. Never one to forsake the work in the name of scale, the album opens with the restrained beauty of the first untitled track. Hovering gently, the piece would serve all too well as the soundtrack to some cave-dwelling crystal palace. With warm and longing loops ebbing and receding against a thick mat of static downpour and whispered wind sweeps, the work is given enough space to unfold once the materials are present, letting it meander long enough to coax out some pretty placid lucid dreams.
To be fair though, that's hardly the case on only the first tune. All five of the untitled tracks here are steeped in an airy loneliness that focuses far more on mood than effect. Guitar plucks drip across endless hums on the second track while the fourth track fades in to a mat of phasing loops that suggests the cosmic without losing sight of humanity. It is this capability that pushes the material beyond most basement dwellers' explorative potential, as Primault exhibits again and again his mastery of craft and attuned sense of loops that change meaning when left to interact.
The lone odd man out here is certainly the third track, which presents a decidedly grimmer take on Primault's sound. Snugged neatly in the middle of the album however, its industrious backing and glitchy smatterings segue neatly between the album's two halves. It is perhaps a necessary and smart change of pace to an album that, at its worst, comes dangerously close to losing its listeners in its drapings.
Yet that is hardly cause for distress; the veils of sound explored on here are rife with change. It just takes patience to uncover its layers. When the closing track enters with a thick knot of gravel, it is offset by steelpan-sounding melodies that softly meld on to the rough background and drag it into another space entirely. Closing things on this note is suiting; half way between thick and thin, full and empty, awake and asleep, it perfectly ties together all of the contradictions that are woven so well here. It is releases like this that display the true potential of the homegrown labels, and it is a shame that only 100 people will be able to here this warmly created package.