Apparently hailing from Paris, Watine hold forth their tantalisingly-titled new album Geometries sous-cutanees, or Subcutaneous Layers. The Watine house style is a sort of highly-atmospheric melancholy instrumental folk, but with plenty of electronic treatments and layers, as well as unidentified sounds creeping around the edges of the mix. Rather engaging stuff. Double LP on Catgang.
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Helpfully translated from its native language into good ol’ (British) English for us, it’s ‘Subcutaneous Layers (Géometries sous-cutanées)’ by Watine. It’s also rather lush, from its use of textured instrumentation down to the intriguing cover art.
Catherine Watine has made the kind of modern classic that couldn’t really have originated from anywhere other than France. The music joins the dots between late-period classical romanticism, Parisien-Salon Modernism.. and Bristol (well, Portishead). With a fair few prog-rock flourishes along the way. The result is akin to a more frenchy Penguin Cafe with some lovely filmic pizzicato strings popping up amongst smoky, shadowy alleyway beats. ‘Verrophone’ is particularly lovely, with some fantastic smoker’s drums and low-down basement piano riff.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better than that, there’s a gorgeously sad cello weeping all over the slow jam that is ‘Melancholia My Love’; followed by the sexy, breathy, slightly John Carpenter-esque ‘Lovesick’. The album closer ‘Jetlag’ serves as a fittingly dramatic 14-minute finale to an album that plays out like the haziest of fever dreams.
10/10 Jack LINE Customer review, 25th January 2019
From the 1st track of this album, the musical texture, liberated from cultural analogy, opens up showing expansive and focussed composition. The obsessive repetitiveness heard is closer to the Steve Reich School of thought, constantly referencing 70’s masterminds like Tangerine Dream, surely exalted company to keep. Catherine Watine is not afraid to apply layer upon layer akin to an internal earthquake in order to free herself from a being confined within this format. Catherine Watine submerges us into the origin of concrete music and the acousmatic form, flowing with a mix of electronic German music from the 70’s. However, the essential power of this wide-ranging music is not to freeze the moment. Not one minute relates to the previous one, building a 10 minutes long track reveals a rich and surprising ambiance. The piece often starts softly evolving into music of remarkable power finding the strings rising towards the open sky to dazzle you on high. The journey taken by the listener in this album could break down into diverse paths like classic masterpiece or Canadian Post Rock, but her music is so unique it will be impossible to label it. Apart from the actual musical scene, this album tips it’s hat to diverse artists from Gabriel Faure to The Bristol movement noting a progressive rock allusion and obsessive electronic repetitions. You will get on board with this urban post-pop album which will set you on a journey where you will find it challenging to go ashore and explore this unchartered soundscape. This is indeed a golden opportunity to treat yourself to an absolute change of musical scenery if the unknown doesn’t alarm you and the taste of discovery inspires you, this is an album for you.
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