Chapelier Fou ~ Muance

When an electronic artist makes a joyful noise with the cello, violin and clarinet, should it still be considered electronic music, or is it modern composition?  French artist Chapelier Fou (Louis Warynski) splits the sonic difference on his latest release, treating listeners to an exquisite blend.

We’ve been enjoying the lead single “Philémon” for months, bobbing on its sea of strings and beats.  The bowed breakdowns are especially alluring; the last one lands in a tidal pool of chimes.  One imagines orchestras dancing and dancers thinking.  This is a difficult middle ground, but Warynski has been at it for a decade, long enough to inspire reissues and remixes.  Muance is his first full-length album since 2014’s Deltas, and it seems his exuberance has only grown since then.  As the world has grown darker, Chapelier Fou has continued to offer a counterbalance.  When “Artifices” shifts from a walk to a sprint mid-piece, it’s as if to say, come run with us, we’re having fun!  The same holds true for “Stiiches”, whose beats double over to create a sense of propulsion.  Even “Antivalse”, which begins as a lullaby, ends as a romp, its brief length reminiscent of last year’s Kalia.  Only “Guillotine”, refusing to recover from a breakdown, injects a serious note; but we’re glad to hear the depth, and what did you expect from that title anyway?

After playing with friends for seven of the first eight tracks, Warynski goes it alone in the final triplet.  It’s to his benefit that we hardly notice.  He plays a lot of instruments, and as the swift strings of “Cavalcade” topple into a bank of programming, the hand behind the switch becomes apparent.  The short rap is the album’s only false note, a jarring burst of reality in the middle of a dream.  We prefer Oz with the curtain drawn.  Fortunately, he then provides a soft landing, sending the listener comfortably back into reverie, the last percussive electronics fading three minutes before Muance ends.  We’re left with a final taste of those strings, a quiet comfort in the middle of the night.  (Richard Allen)

Release date:  20 October

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