Joie Noire – 1
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It may only last for 38 minutes, but Jérôme Caron's third album pushes all the right buttons. It's also the very first piece of work the Frenchman has delivered via the Joie Noire moniker. Those familiar with the Gallic tongue will note the translation "Black Joy"; the name with which Caron stamped his first two LPs. That project was a sort of loose band, with Caron at the helm. In a manner of speaking, that makes 1 almost a solo debut.
Where Blackjoy was a vehicle for Caron to demonstrate his love for jazz, funk and soul, this time the slant is more electronic. 1reeks of vintage synthesis, showing the influence of electro and similar-era genres, like synth pop. "Multa Ilo Part 2," for instance, is akin to the work produced by Bangkok Impact and Maximilian Skiba in the '00s, themselves inspired by names like Giorgio Moroder. This isn't music which attempts to lull with modern trickery; it instead revels in the simplicity of merry arpeggios and sonorous electronics.
What makes 1 so attractive is its exploration of the moods a relatively basic set of sounds can create. In "Multa Ilo Part 1," for example, Caron touches on the kind of menacing ambient usually attributed to people like Adam X. It's only when cosmic pads appear in the second half that it reveals itself to be a different beast. With "Limbo," there's a patchy sense of urgency, a frantic arpeggio and minute stabs of watery guitar. Then there's the pensive "Unknown;" mournful washes of synth and soft hi-hats which sound like spurts of powder emitting each time the kick drum hits.
If it sounds like a mixed bag, that's because it is. Somehow though, it all works. Perhaps it's the barefacedness present in all nine tracks; Caron's regard for simple songwriting rather than intricacy. Whatever the case, the result is a well-considered—if short—narrative. It's clear that the buttons aren't being pushed arbitrarily.