The newest entry in the Monad series comes courtesy of the French duo Charlotte Isabelle; and behind this unassuming name there lies an immediately perceptible depth and innovation. With a determined yet unpredictable approach that evokes the history of their home country’s creative avant-gardes, they deliver a uniquely organic electronic music that seems as if it has been finely aged for years in oak barrels rather than residing on a computer’s hard drive. This tension between atmospheres of ultra-modernism and pre-industrial craftsmanship makes for an intriguing listening experience from beginning to finish.
The leadoff track for their Monad contribution, “Anaba,” is an excellent introduction to their aesthetic, with the beat galloping along like some ingenious steam-powered contraption. A vocabulary of hisses and metallic hits adds to this feeling of an alternate history of technology, while creeping bass sequences keep the listener anchored in the present day. In the grand Monad tradition, it’s a danceable piece of storytelling. “Geridoo” continues this adventure in a slower tempo, with more steam rising up from Charlotte Isabelle’s machinery and with snare drum rolls snapping the listener to attention. A multi-layered droning undulates all around this percussive framework, making for an exquisite balance of the ethereal and the solid.
By the third track (“Desba”), the rhythms and environmental loops become more distinctly ritualistic and archaic, revealing Charlotte Isabelle’s skill as sonic time travelers. Tactile scrapings and distant vocal-like emissions point to an archaeological exercise carried out with beats and tones as the main exploratory tools.
After this excursion, the duo closes the EP with an immersive piece of stellar ambience that comes from an unknown time and place: an alien transmission that is the perfect capstone to a recording which, to this point, has kept its imagination tethered to the Earth. By the time the last glimmers of this track fade away, it’s clear that Charlotte Isabelle knows how to tap electronic music’s unlimited potential for fascination.
“Contains elements of “Le bruit d’une porte qui… ”
Original material by José Luís Ferreira.