After becoming bored with the huge success of AIR, Nicolas Godin has decided to treat us to his solo work. On Contrepoint, one of our favorite 90s French producers sheds a new light on the intricacies of Johann Sebastian Bach’s solo piano works. And, not surprisingly, the result is estranging and enticing.
6/10 Robin Staff review, 15 September 2015
Bless my editor Clint for simplifying tough situations: he’s handed me an album of noisy thrashmaking by Destruction Unit and another of chiptune Bach reinventions by Nicolas Godin, terming them both ‘rock music’. We don’t do genre here at Norman Records: just gross sonic generalisations.
Anyway, this dude is from Air, a once pioneering ambient pop duo who have become increasingly terrible together and apart (their collaborative records have produced diminishing returns through the oughties, but Jean-Benoit Dunckel’s recent ‘Man of Sorrow’ almost self-parodied their overtly-dulcet tones). Godin is in a couple different frames of mind on ‘Contrepoint’, going from the classical EDM of “Orca” into a soft psychedelic hibernation on the acoustically strummed, softly fretted “Widerstehe Doch Der Sunde”. It's all tied together by a reverence for Bach, whose stoical motifs appear on every track.
If you’re wondering which wins out -- the high-brow Andrew WK or the ‘70s yacht rock droner -- it’s mostly the latter. This record just floats on. There are moments of real chillout bliss, like the lounge instrumental “Club Nine”, which lets you live in a pre-interview waiting room forever, your ears caught between brushed jazz drums and elevator piano. “Clara” sounds like a traditional slice of dub meeting Dan Bejar’s strung-out oldies project Destroyer. I’m going to do something I’m wont to do here and compare “Glenn” to Al Stewart, since its synths glisten towards an historical epic, while its conventional rock set up sounds more like a celebration of soft rock. This is all before the song introduces a synthline akin to your Pokemon game breaking in a fight against whatever immature name you gave to your enemy.
If Godin had gone full ham on the careful, soft sounds ‘Conterpoint’ has to offer, I’d be down, but he’s a lover of eclecticism for the sake of eclecticism, and so this record is ruined by moments of abject silliness, of the kind of electronica symphonies the Books would write, or the kind of Krautrock Can would not advise you using without a supervisor. Keep it chill, Nicolas. Please. Please keep it chill?
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- Contrepoint by Nicolas Godin
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