Motional x Grand Ciel | Ater/Iterare
Mt. Gargan Records (LP/DL)
This is an interesting project, for its content, context and physical manifestations. This split record contains eleven tracks, Ater by Raphaël Durand aka Motional (five tracks) and Iterare by Jean-Cédric Lazare aka Grand Ciel (6 tracks), both of these electronic producer/artists originate out of Limoges, France. They each employ tapes, homemade acoustic instruments and electronics to achieve their sound. Admittedly I was a bit sleepy at the wheel to announce this before the gorgeous art edition sold out, but the Autumn is our busiest season here. That said, you can ogle at it here, and rest assured, that at press time there were still copies, for those record collectors out there, to nab the standard clear vinyl (though as limited to 120 copies this will likely also sell rather quickly).
We begin with a thin-line bass bowing and ambient space of Motional‘s emotive Karlsruhe. It simply immerses you in a world of tranquility, with a hinted darker side. By incorporating a bell, a cello and velvety electronics it’s almost like the unfolding of a folk tale, in this light its a bit romantic and melancholy. As he moves into Globule he offers a reduced minimal techno with a worldly elongated vocal treatment. The claps and wavering effects remind me somehow of the birth of Portishead. It moves in the same slow, illusory vein. Durand moves into a greyer frame of mind on Forest at first, until it turns into something of a bluegrass western of sorts. The twang and melody then evolves into a contemporary folk song with an electronic core.
It’s a strange combination, and could easily be a film score. The final ten seconds of rainy static are a perfect lead-in to the somber Thunder. It’s a beautiful calming work that blends a dappled theme with a field recording of inclement weather, that tiny pitter-patter of rain on a sidewalk gets me every time. I want the piece to keep going, but it’s one of the shorter passages at on three and a half minutes. His final contribution to this split is Avem, with an ambient flute and lots of breathy space. The silences, the in-between, are affecting with a lazy gait, that is until a break is made in the opaque surface by a slightly agitated noise that rotates and drifts and repeats, into a gauzy fadeout.
Grand Ciel (l) / Motional (r)
On to Grand Ciel‘s side where it begins with a funny little anthem called A Portrait Of Your Absence. It’s not really “funny” per se, more as though it tickles your ears with its animated nature. It’s like a distant cousin to some of the themes heard in work by Sigur Rós, but more spirited. It’s a great entré here. The acoustic cinema continues on Lucia, where Lazare plays on lines that merge a speculative ambient track with the retro stylings of say, the Stranger Things soundtrack. His bouncy synths begin to hide in the shallows where a soaring swirl of sonics becomes an emotive mix. Here he blends translucent hues with fine static and a parochial melody. Bord Du Lac has a certain sense of corrosion in its patina, the piece much darker than the previous makes for an unpredicted mood swing. Scratchy and tactile, his surface reveals itself, peeling back the illusion of a happy-go-lucky atmosphere with a granular white noise.
Then on In A Heartbeat we find Grand Ciel composing a dubby, gaseous work in the tradition of Chain Reaction, only with more melodic transitions. It’s a sleek track worthy of extending, and other re/mix considerations. This is the type of sound that could guide guide my entire day, ear porn. As we move into the ambience of The Past Is Leaving a low range strum and a layer of microstatic add a certain cache to an otherwise illuminated acoustic vignette that swirls around, and around. The use of a simple piano riff here is so effective for the atmosphere, offering a spacial dimension. Lastly En Chemin is a perky outro with its stringed fluctuations and steady rubberized percussion that takes us out with a bit of a wry smile and a flutter.