CD, Sound On Probation, 2007
With “Starting Back,” minimal electronic authority and Sound on Probation label founder Laurent Perrier – a name familiar via such projects as Zonk’t and Pylône – returns to the Heal moniker after a several-year hiatus, delivering a polished and effortless excursion into laidback techno rhythms, dub grooves and stripped-down jazz. Full of instrumental blips, nervous tones and velvety textures, “Starting Back” stays true to its minimal roots while exploring edgy and engaging melodic tendencies.
On first listen, the album is impressive in its smoothness, and with each successive encounter, “Starting Back” only increases in mysterious and fluid listenability. Perrier’s carefully selected and sculpted instruments (from trumpet and saxophone to xylophone and piano) are full of warmth and introspection, tracks are fresh in flavor, and dynamic elements of light and dark balance nicely throughout the disc. Heal differs most notably from Perrier’s other projects in its potential for wider appeal. While it retains the production quality and minimal aesthetic synonymous with his name, Heal provides an intriguing musical tangent of jazzy melodies cross-pollinated with influences from techno, trip-hop and acid electronics.
From the record scratching that peppers the slow-funk opener, “Cicatrice,” to the grey dawn chill-out of “Paradise Beach” at the album’s end, “Starting Back” is comprised of fifteen installments of clean, abstract instrumentation that glides along a frictionless highway of sound. A wide range of feeling is evident in Heal – the listener at one moment encounters the melancholy tune and somewhat sinister atmosphere of “Pont-Levis,” while at the next is entertained by the jazz noodling of “La Chatte Andalouse.” “Chute D’oreiller” showcases some energetic piano lines, “Autodrome” twists and turns around acid bleeps, layers of “Commutateur” are reminiscent of spaced-out trance, and “Mainmise” exemplifies simple, haunting patience. As always, it is Perrier’s full and pregnant bass tones providing the subsonic glue that binds everything together so well.
— Dutton Hauhart