“You Look Different” is the debut album from Eymeric Amselem aka Fall Therapy. Based in Grenoble close to the French Alps, Amselem is a multi instrumentalist who produces electronica from mixed with acoustic instruments and floating between introspection and abstraction. Much like n5MD’s recent duo Suumhow, Amselem grew up on a steady diet of artists on the label such as Near The Parenthesis and Ruxpin.
“Crisp, yet loose UK garage style percussion creates a firm anchor for swirling synths, pendulous guitar loops, and muted violin cascades (an instrument that Amselem has recently re-associated with). Those form an excellent whole as-is but, Amselem folds in some surprisingly soulful vocals to sweeten the deal. A shining debut from an artist to keep your ears and eyes open for”.
“Wrong” after a brief flurry of kaleidoscopic electronics a pair of synth tones with just enough menace embedded in them. Musically the track has all the hallmarks of proggy electronica from the sounds of the Synths, to the gradual increase in textures and creating moods. The track harkens back to an easier time. But just as you think you know the journey that you were going on, Amselem flips you on your head with the crisp and slightly off kilter beats of “Taste of Variance” taking us into the Garage style percussion mentioned in the press release. Having much more of a dance floor feel than the other releases on the label this year, the noticeable quality that shines through is how clean and present the sounds are. Even after decades of loud music and my hearing being impaired somewhat, the music and indeed mastering (by label boss Mike Cadoo at 37n,122w) is impressively vibrant with the beats, Synths and what sounds like treated guitar shining through.
“Consistency” starts with a bass beat and thick walls of Industrial Synthwave sounds and garbled dialogue. The track is constructed so as to not be of totally obvious sounding instrumentation. The parts feel to moving in multiple direction with the beats and synth lines propelling the track forward, while the Synthwave sounds being almost percussive in their use. The track is the most complex of the album so far and with its sound pallet covers different musical genres and while not being too dark, it definitely has a core of ominousness running through it.
“Simple Things Fading Away” is pastoral in its ambient guitar, bird song and sounds of walking in a wet field. It also a collection of rubbery electronics that juxtapose this main part of the track which in a way lead the track into its second half of its ambience and woozy/decayed piano sections. It’s quite a weird track in that, for me, it doesn’t seem to gel with its disparate elements, but I can’t help but think that these are somewhat related to the title and act as a sort of disruption between the “Simple Things” of the opening and closing of the track.
“Guilt” opens with field recordings of walking sounds similar to the previous track with metallic reverberating strings that evolve out of silence. A cutting, banging noise instigates truncated percussion and the strings are joined by trumpet to become the two main sounds. A brief snatch of silence and a rumbling bass line heralds in the first clear (if robotic) vocals. The track has so many elements that converge such as piano, the beats, bass lines, that offer different sounds and influences. You can sense a nod to 80’s electronic music, jazz influences as well as classic electronica. There is a lot musically going on which requires multiple listens to glean all the information.
“Concessions” features looped broken beats and acoustic guitar loops that interlock together, while a bass line rumbles underneath it. The music has an offkilter feel largely derived from the beats, but also the collection of sounds which are largely looped based and the way they all interact. In the middle of the track it flows through more conventional passages and sounds with strings and Synths before heading back to looping and tumbling of before with more of an emphasis on melodic features with a touch of folktronica flickering in.
“Abraded” glassy chimes, skittering beats, vocals, glitches, bass lines and Synths create a relaxed track that is more chilled than previous tracks. The vocals are predominant and float on top of the instruments which at times are snatches of sounds and at other more fleshed out. After an ambient interlude of Synths and silence, the beats and electronics creep back in, but still further the track in its ambient direction and add in strings that soar with their modern classical touches adding in nicely.
“Nobody Can” the albums final track contains what sounds like rain percussion or metallic clicking over which synth lines unfold with bouncy textures. You get a sense of differing emotions, there are long relaxing drones, synth/piano lines which sound as if things are slowly falling apart as well as sound of things unwinding with a heavy sigh and the tape machine suddenly stopping.
The title “You Look Different” could apply to the tracks on the album. While there are characteristics than run through the album (but not necessarily all the tracks), there isn’t a sense of everything being cut from the same cloth. There are retro synth stylings, clipped beats, dark bass lines, ambience, vocals, field recordings and strings, four on the floor beats, but not all the tracks contained within use these components the same way. Ironically I had an idea of what the rest of the album may sound like after hearing “Taste of Variance”, but the tracks after that certainly made me re-think my expectations. If electronica that is not afraid to stray away from its core sound interests you, the Fall Therapy could be for you.