Hermione Frank joins the Smalltown Supersound family for her most confounding and satisfying set to date: unfurling four hypnotic long-form experimental workouts that drift thru heat-haze dub, freeform jazz, ambient electronix, tight club bumps and beachy neo-nu age wetness. RIYL Donato Dozzy, Huerco S., Batu, CCL or Laurel Halo.
rRoxymore's debut album "Face to Phase" was a welcome oddity when it materialized in 2019, a literate compound of ceramic dancefloor momentum and low-end horizontals that almost doggedly refused to attach itself to any obvious trends. It made sense given her sinuous musical history: an active part of Paris's hybrid music scene, playing jazz, house and hip-hop, Frank later moved to Berlin to investigate electronic music further, and widened her knowledge without narrowing her horizons. "Perpetual Now" is an extension of the efforts she's made over the last decade to formulate a unique musical signature, and at this point in her career she truly sounds distinct. Preferring glassy FM synths and obsessively hand-crafted percussive clangs to sample pack fodder and DAW presets, Frank has come up with a sound that straddles genres by necessity rather than by design. Her palette is as complex and fictile as anything you might excavate from the experimental world, but flows with the sensuality of the best deep house slow-burners, or the smokiest downtempo groovers.
Here Frank dispenses with pop pleasantries, directing her concepts into four lengthy movements that teem with life and tell a story that's layered and cursive. A skilled DJ as well as a thoughtful producer, she infuses each element with meaning, giving the music a level of mystery that rewards deep and repeat listens. Opening track 'At the Crest' is almost 10 minutes long and weaves mindfully thru razor-sharp abstraction, clubby low-end rumbles and ear-tickling psychedelic high frequency sizzles. It's musically not a million miles from Bristol's Livity Sound, but Frank brings a jazzy sensibility to her electronic productions, adding unexpected warmth and harmonic gesticulation to each composition. 'Sun in C' is even more open with its inspirations, cracking from a beatless 'French Kiss' interpolation into ambient free jazz, with dissociated blasts of sax expressionism draped across seismic sub bass rattles.
'Fragmented Dreams' rattles with the psychotomimetic intensity of Donato Dozzy or more recently, CCL. Frank's beats don't so much pound as float: her high end ticks like an ephemeral clock lost in its own bubble, while kicks roll like waves. All of this builds up towards the album's impressive final segment 'Water Stains', a rhythmic epic that stabilizes paper-thin insectoid kicks with machine-strength tom sounds and levitational new age pads. Still anchored to the momentum of contemporary club music, the track sounds as if it's out of time, assembled from unexpected sounds and driven towards an unknown location. Frank's power is her ability to spin coherent stories from a myriad of influences and experiences, and it's a privilege to be let into her world for a while. Huge recommendation.