Boomkat Product Review:
PAN grip Parisian producer Erwan Sene for a debut album of sculpted downbeats and plasmic AI dramaturgy landing somewhere between D.K., CS + Kreme, Fatima Al Qadiri and Heith.
Marking the label’s 15th year of operations alongside 2023 entries by Toxe, Honour and Eva Manji, ‘JUnQ’ or the Journal of Unsolved Questions introduces Erwan Sene to the fold five years since his first 12” as Sene, for Unknown Precepts. An established sculptor, Sene here deploys a 10-part album as a musical representation of a multi-faceted, immersive installation project incorporating sculptures, a book and an exhibition that explores ideas of AI ontology and the nature of artistic performance.
It's easy to get lost in a concept but Sene avoids the usual pitfalls, focusing instead on building a coherent sonic bubble for his vignettes to breath in. His instrumentation is unique - harpsichord and violin brush against wheezing electronics without sounding too dissonant. His percussive instincts fold in traces of Arabic drum tones a la DJ Plead, resonating with the modern mysticism of D.K. or CS + Kreme, but wrapped with a plasmic skin of synthesised and re-sampled tones.
'Tilt' uses choral echoes and baroque chords that dissolve into thudding drill-kicks and industrial hats. Serpentine electronics wind their way into a contemporary lattice of rhythms, mutating into Britton-esque woodwind and torpid strings. Sene is a confident producer, folding environmental recordings and samples into his dizzy, rhythmic spirals. 'Zones' begins with a barely-audible click track that splutters coolly beneath room hum and lurching reverberations. Tense, cinematic strings are punctuated by a dubwise lilt that's not a million miles from the early Tectonic catalog or Shackleton's psychedelic bass experiments.
As the album sidles into its final act, the percussion - previously bold and pronounced - fizzles subtly into the background. The album's last two tracks 'Block That Kill' and 'Black Out Bar' curl flutes and hammered strings around granulated textures, bird calls and rickety foley hiccups. It’s a fitting finale, lavishing microtonal metallophone minimalism with urgent, widescreen beats hinting at humanity waiting in the wings.