CD EP, Guérilla Underground/aB.100, 2008
For their most recent release, the French duo Absent – composed of sound artists Yannick Donet and Frederic Bailly – took on a decidedly ambitious conceptual approach. “Children” presents a series of reflections on the concept of childhood, a synergy between writing, music and illustration, culminating in re-workings of Absent’s contributions by other sound artists.
The four tracks on offer on this EP are very good pieces of brooding electronica and adequate allusions to the subject matter that pervades this release. From a slowly evolving, roiling piece of ambience (“L’aire de l’informe”), “Children” progresses through more structured and less “primitive” pieces, culminating in the electronica lullaby that is “Willy.” “Processus Primaires,” another delicately evolving piece, is a break from what was approached in the previous pieces, but also feels like a conclusion and reflection of sorts on the same.
Building on the work of Absent, the remixes take the original work through four increasingly divergent paths. If Kabutogani’s “Sticky Skies” adheres closely to Absent’s composition style, La Division Mentale veers off with a playful if slightly oppressive piece, while Ten Data Keshin and Shizuka leave a strong and lasting imprint on the listener’s memory with the final two tracks. True to form, Ten Data Keshin’s “Dark Corridor” is an oppressive piece of rolling beats and haunting samples. Parallel to “Processus Primaires,” Shizuka’s closing piece is also meditative, delivered in his characteristic style of intelligent, precise electronics with an oriental flavour.
Overall, this is a pretty good release that is sure to find adepts among appreciators of precise dark electronica but, in the end, there’s a feeling that the relationship between the several media that comprise it is somewhat lopsided. Clearly favouring sound interpretations over the words of Christelle D and Syf’s illustrations, one wonders if a better synergy couldn’t have been achieved somehow.
— Miguel de Sousa