Brigitte Barbu - Muzak pour Ascenseurs en Panne [Circus Company - 2020]Veteran French house music producer Julien Auger, also known as Pépé Bradock, has now unveiled a new alias for avant garde and electroacoustic music with the Brigitte Barbu project. The album Muzak pour Ascenseurs en Panne (Music for Broken Lifts) is a largely beatless ambient collage of texturally rich experimentation with a vividness that suggests hardware and live instrumentation, but enough heavy processing to obscure the origins of many sounds.
What rhythms I do hear are more like hypnotic cadences created by looping and delay effects than any kind of danceable pulse. A comfortable, warm and inebriated space, this form of repetition mimics the soothing circular reverie of the stoned brain. A space to dwell inside, some of the most beautiful sounds are tucked beneath the surface, like the lovely lounge guitar licks of "Beau Zoo". The electric timbre of the growling synth drone later in this piece seems imbued with the full spectrum of colors. Though disconnected from meter or tempo, the whole of the soundspace resonates in chordal harmony.
There are five interludes titled "Trou Vert 1-5" alternated with the longer pieces, each one minute in length. These are the lone moments of sequenced rhythm, a plodding march tempo. Accompanied by dissonant saw wave lines, the sluggish beats become a marabre dream-like processional, accentuating the otherworldly and alien atmosphere permeating the entire album.
The album's most notable quality is perhaps Julien Auger's limitless inventiveness in the creation of novel timbres, and deconstructing sounds into a granular shuffling mulch. There is surprising emotional cohesion in his experimental collage style on this recording, which feels like a smoky jazz fusion record or an ambient frolic through the clouds. This album should appeal to those looking to escape to luminous celestial dimensions, avant garde in form but zen ambient in spirit, absolutely lush and pleasing to the ears.Josh Landry