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Electronic/Dance - Released October 26, 2018 | Versatile Records

Etienne Jaumet fans may not know about his lifelong love of jazz -- at least, not until they hear 8 Regards Obliques. Jaumet's reinterpretations of classics by Miles Davis, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and other legends live up to the album's title in how they provide different perspectives on time-tested music. Even listeners who aren't jazz buffs will recognize the undulating melody of Duke Ellington's "Caravan," which Jaumet gives a '70s sci-fi twist with an arpeggiated synth bass (he strikes a similar mood with the futuristic noir of "Ma Revelation Mystique," the album's lone original composition). His devotion to jazz isn't just reflected in 8 Regards Obliques' cleverly chosen selections, but in his wisdom to not imitate his idols too closely. The mood and sound he strikes are more "jazzy" than what is conventionally thought of as jazz. On the album-opening version of Miles' "Shh Peaceful," percolating electronics and a swift four-on-the-floor pulse provide a safety net for Jaumet's saxophone -- which he studied at Paris' Conservatoire -- to roam, but not too far. While it doesn't swing, it teeters between sophistication and restlessness in a way that feels like the most genuine tribute Jaumet could pay to the original. Similarly, he translates jazz's unpredictability into unconventional arrangements, making his sax even skronkier on his take of Ornette Coleman's "Theme from a Symphony" and using toy flutes and twanging synths to add surprising whimsy to Philip Cohran's majestic "Unity." Throughout the album, Jaumet pays homage to jazz's depth and playfulness. Blobby, lava lamp synths coexist with a fittingly meditative groove and some of Jaumet's most impassioned sax on an expansive version of John Coltrane's "Spiritual," while Sun Ra's "Nuclear War" gets a stripped-down, irony-heavy makeover. Ultimately, 8 Regards Obliques is a heartfelt celebration of jazz's adventurous spirit, offering more proof that Jaumet can put his own entertaining stamp on any style of music. ~ Heather Phares
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Electronic/Dance - Released October 19, 2018 | Versatile Records

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House - Released November 14, 2011 | Versatile Records

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House - Released June 30, 2009 | Versatile Records

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House - Released June 7, 2019 | Versatile Records

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Techno - Released May 4, 2015 | Versatile Records

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Electronic/Dance - Released | Versatile Records

In some ways, it's a shame Etienne Jaumet called his first album Night Music. While that name was an apt description for his Carl Craig-produced solo debut -- which expanded on the atmospheric tech-house he also explores as one half of Zombie Zombie -- La Visite is also filled with tracks that sound best after dark. This time, Jaumet opts for a more streamlined, and more danceable, approach reflecting the years between this album and Night Music. His collaboration with Richard Pinhas and his DJ gigs inform La Visite's sleek yet playful feel, exemplified by the single "Metallik Cages," where a slow-building and burning beat is joined by foggy synths and clanking percussion with sinister and kinetic results. The title track follows suit, balancing Jaumet's trusty saxophone with newer elements like his vocals so deftly that its flirtations with camp never get in the way of its momentum. Even songs that hark back to Night Music or his work with Zombie Zombie, such as the winking "Anatomy of a Synthesizer," could fit easily into a dancefloor mix along with "Stuck in the Shadow of Your Love," a whispery, urgent standout that makes the most of its surging synths and rolling beats. Jaumet doesn't abandon Night Music's introspection entirely, however. Many of these tracks are downright subdued, which is all the more impressive considering that their instrumentation could tip over into wackiness in less assured hands. "Moderne Jungle"'s blend of sax and rubbery electronics sounds contemplative thanks to the vast amount of space surrounding them, an approach Jaumet returns to on "Midnight Man" and "Module Mou," which resembles Night Music's drifting kosmiche in miniature. The ease and flair with which Jaumet blends old and new, and atmosphere and purpose, on La Visite make it some of his most accomplished music yet. ~ Heather Phares
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Electronic/Dance - Released December 2, 2014 | Versatile Records

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House - Released June 23, 2009 | Versatile Records

Dance - Released October 4, 2009 | Domino Recording Co

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Despite having one album of Kraut-horror-disco (as half of the duo Zombie Zombie) and one well-received 12" (Repeat Again After Me) under his belt, Etienne Jaumet came to his debut solo full-length still a relative newcomer and a self-described outsider to the world of electronica. Perhaps that explains why it stands out as such a fresh and distinct piece of work, well removed from any obvious contemporary electronic trends. Historical reference points for the album, sonically and structurally, include early Detroit techno, the "kosmische musik" of Manuel Göttsching and Klaus Schulze, and perhaps, on a more fundamental, conceptual level, the minimalism of Steve Reich -- of course, these are seminal and inevitable touchstones for all electronic music, certainly including the entire minimal techno wave of the 2000s and especially the late-decade revival of cosmic (neo-)disco and the like. But Jaumet manages to incorporate these influences in a refreshingly pure, direct way, crafting a sincere homage to oft-elided originators while avoiding the pitfalls of mere stylistic mimicry, in part, through his unusual use of organic instrumental sounds and elements of free jazz. Night Music is a significant title, appropriately evocative yet non-specific: this is unquestionably dark music, redolent in particular of urban and somewhat seedy nocturnal activity, and it would lose much of its power and cogency if exposed to sunlight. The track names do suggest a more precise programmatic conceit of a single night's journey through sleep and dreams, but this is hardly a restful affair. As hypnotic as it is, "For Falling Asleep" -- the album's 20-minute opener, centerpiece, and statement of purpose -- would be nearly impossible to actually sleep to, and would seem to portend, at best, highly troubled dreams. The track, built on a constant yet constantly shifting arpeggiated analog synth figure, sometimes accompanied by hissy, wobbly beatbox percussion, glides through a gradually evolving soundscape populated by unobtrusively ominous synth pads, eerie wordless female voices, and a haze of noodly saxophones -- only giving way in its final minutes to a curious, beatless liminal space where, of all things, a deftly plucked harp crops up, coexisting somewhat queasily with still-menacing synth swells. It's a small moment of repose after an exhausting but majestic journey of seemingly endless unfolding, but it's a necessary palate-cleanser, because from there we plunge directly into "Mental Vortex," which rides a sturdier, robotic Detroit groove and a taut, entrancing four-note synth riff into progressively squelchier territory. The album grows marginally calmer, if not necessarily gentler, as it proceeds -- the briefer "Entropy" once again features an insistent synth bass ostinato, but it's more spacious, almost funky, while "Through the Strata," a disquieting drone-based piece dominated by the unexpected and not entirely harmonious sound of a hurdy-gurdy, is propelled only by an intermittent kick drum pulse. Finally, "At the Crack of Dawn" is beatless but throbbing, a study in vague but unremitting tension generated primarily by a clutch of dense, sleazy saxes. It's striking stuff -- definitely not easy listening, but well worth the effort, even if it feels like a slightly lopsided affair, with the final four tracks overshadowed by one terrifically effective and truly inventive epic. ~ K. Ross Hoffman