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Un Jour EP by Atone (Review)

As lovely as Atone’s sounds are, there’s a sense that the songs lack a real focus.

A few months ago, I did a little write-up about Autres Directions In Music, a web-based label that offers all of its artists’ music for download… for free (click here to download this entire EP). In ADIM’s case, it’s well worth the time and bandwidth, as their releases have all been consistently solid slices of lo-fi IDM, drone, and electronica. Atone continues the tiny label’s tradition, with another solid release of homebrew, lo-fi electronica that hints at plenty of potential.

Originally recorded in the early months of 2003 for live performances, the 5 songs on Un Jour were eventually shelved due to resource limitations (in other words, the live performance didn’t go off quite as planned). Taking a 3-month break from the songs, Atone (aka Antoine Monzonis-Calvet) returned to the studio for another stab, this time with better resources.

The result is a lovely enough assortment of tracks in the vein of Múm. Light, barely-there drum programs sputter and gurgle about, less concerned with driving the songs forward than anchoring and holding them in place — which gives Monzonis-Calvet’s playful, toybox-like synths plenty of time and space in which to flit and flutter about like the spangles inside a kaleidoscope.

On the EP’s opening track, synth bleeps and textures struggle to form a melody out of jumble of clattering, industrial noises. Although the song never comes completely together, even with gently sparkling rhythms and static-y drones joining the fray, it doesn’t really matter. The process of blending the sounds, not to mention the qualities of the sounds themselves, prove fascinating enough. The same fluttering tones and textures flit about nearly all of the EP’s tracks, combining in various and sundry ways.

Two Marimbas” has an almost Plone-like feel in its playfulness, minus the twee-ness, as various bell-like tones ring out. ​“Balneaire” is one of the EP’s more ambient tracks — the glitchy patterns lend only the slightest structure and weight to the dreamy tones that comprise much of the piece.

As lovely as Atone’s sounds are, there’s a sense that the songs lack a real focus. Monzonis-Calvet is incredibly adept at coaxing gorgeous sounds and textures from his equipment, but sometimes he seems at a loss when it comes to actually doing anything with them. As such, the EP’s tracks sometimes feel less like true songs, and more like sketches and concepts waiting for that final element to pull everything together and deliver something truly spectacular.

The final track, ​“Qobac Sine,” feels like the disc’s most completed track, mainly because Monzonis-Calvet takes his time (the track clocks in at nearly 7 minutes) in piecing things together. ​“Qobac Sine” is also far more muted and solemn than anything else on the EP, with solemn tones and blurred pulses sounding out amidst the clouds of static that swirl and chip away at their perimeter.

But regardless, the disc only hints at Monzonis-Calvet’s real potential, and with a few minor tweaks here and a little tightening there, the music could only get better. What’s more, Atone’s release further solidifies ADIM’s ​“reputation” as a label with a real ear for solid music, and a devotion to a burgeoning scene that seems overflowing with talent. I don’t know what’s going on over there in Nantes, but I hope it doesn’t stop anytime soon.


Read more about Atone, Autres Directions In Music, and Un Jour Ep.

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