Autrenoir by AutrenoirRelease date: December 31, 2017
Label: Distant Voices
It begins with razor sharp resonances, shards of glass gently brushing against your skin, teasing your senses with a shrieking, unsettling timbre. A piercing drum machine pulsation kicks in with a deafening thump, slowly but surely setting the song into motion, foreboding first-time listeners of the heavy yet subtle violence to come.
Thus opens Autrenoir, an eponymous debut EP by Paul Régimbeau (aka Mondkopf) and Greg Buffier’s (Saåad), a project built on dread and discomfort sketched in its bare-boned form.
Autrenoir doesn’t draw its heaviness from loudness or abrasive crashes; rather, the atmosphere on each track settles in and grows at a steady pace, like a novel that unveils it gripping narrative, page by page, word by word.
Over the course of thirty minutes spread between five tracks, the French electronic duo take no prisoners when confronting us with our primal instincts of repulsion, triggered by suspenseful builds and noisy ambiences that swell and disintegrate into the records’ barren landscapes.
The sonic palette on display on this debut release only serves to add to this discomfort; minimal drum machines and electronic instruments are mixed with string sections, field recordings, electric guitars and pianos, resulting in a disorienting hybrid of organic, acoustic instrumentation and purely synthetic beats and layers. Lines are blurred and familiar sounds are put into question, in a confusing masquerade where every sound converges towards the uncanny valley.
Autrenoir is not only an unwelcoming listen; it is also a slow-burner, one that rewards the more attentive and resilient of listeners. Make no mistake, however, for as grotesque as this first introduction may appear at times, there lies an equally skilful exercise in creativity and audacity at work here. In other words, though some may find themselves discouraged by Autrenoir upon first or second hearing, to miss out on its underlying beauty is to miss out a great deal. Trust is crucial, patience is key.