My first step in writing an album review is usually to turn to Google to read up on the band and understand their point of view as expressed through interviews. When I typed Télephone Maison into said search engine, I found numerous videos of everyone’s favourite Steven Spielberg movie alien speaking in French. “E.T. telephone maison, E. T. telephone maison!” I’m not sure if this is an intentional allusion on the part of Montreal’s Alexis Maurice Brien in the naming of his musical project, but I can certainly imagine the music as an alien being assembling an eclectic mix of found objects and sounds to send a communication back to his homeland.
Released on tape through Arachnidiscs Recordings, Toujours Partout is a bit of an ambient-minded experimental electronica masterpiece.
It begins with textures of spacey overtones weaved in with head-moving base tones, ornamental blips, and irregular percussion. As the songs go on, heavily filtered vocals join in. When his voice is layered over itself multiple times, as in the opening section of “Je ne sais plus comment,” it takes on the sound of a chorus of inarticulate ghosts, completely arresting yet hollow at the same time.
Each song has an interesting narrative structure – constantly morphing and shifting, often to unexpected destinations. “Rivages masques” begins with the sound of old film rattling behind ominous synth groans that quickly turn into the sound of a predator approaching, faster and faster as the percussion builds. Though instead of the enormous crescendo this leads you to expect, the music plateaus and ethereal vocals from Jeunesse Cosmique labelmate YlangYlang implore you to “look at everything.” As a listening experience, this album forces you to stay on your toes through the continual introduction of unexpected elements like this.
By the time the final notes are reached – more sustained, wavering synth tones – it is clear that this is a highly accomplished release. It’s subtle grooves hypnotize, it’s constant variation keeps it highly interesting, and the immense creativity invested make it a worthwhile experience.
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really good)
Top Tracks: “Métaphore,” “Tonnerre Ancestral,” “Rivages masques”