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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.

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  • PROTOTYP003LP / 180g vinyl mini LP on Prototyp Produktions

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The Man Of Sorrow by Darkel 1 review. Add your own review. 7/10
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7/10 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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