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From Jean-Benoît Dunckel, one half of the less famous French electro pop neo-psych duo Air, comes his Darkel project. Expect more tracks that sound like Air b-sides along with a certain hint of optimism, strange for a man whose moniker is the German word for ‘dark’. Maybe it’s that peculiar French existentialism coming out. Mini album on 180g vinyl with deluxe sleeve on Prototyp Produktions.


180g vinyl mini LP on Prototyp Produktions.

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The Man Of Sorrow by Darkel
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7/10 Robin Staff review, 04 June 2015

The man who once was half of some air particles and/or half of French band Air is behind Darkel. His name is actually Jean-Benoît Dunckel, and you can trust in him for a miasmic symphony; you can also trust in him for a checklist of ambience, waltzing, and whispering in your ear. ‘The Man of Sorrow’ is a rather gorgeous and sometimes sad collection, but in its whole it is smooth, like spinning a 12” of silk -- which would probably be impractical, but not to this chill magician.

The record is opened up with its gorgeous eponymous intro, which is one-half ambient rumination and one-half Adult Contemporary pop song. It rises slowly, with a yawn of strings that wouldn’t be out place on A Winged Victory for the Sullen record, before Dunckel supplements with loudly articulated acoustic strums and psychedelic guitar slides. It flutters happily into the suave drum fill of “True Lover”, a song that sounds like Phil Collins being slowly covered in amazing flowers. It’s an intensely slow waltz about love, played out in violins, bee-stung bass and wide-eyed vocal singsong.

Dunckel likes it slow, and he propels us into “Satanama” like a snail wearing a tuxedo, offering us a wonderfully meditative soundscape with only the implication of movement in a synthline that trudges happily through the clouds. It takes about ten minutes for Dunckel to reach a drumbeat, from a drummer who sounds very well rested indeed. Life is a snooze, not a race.


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