Jean-Emmanuel Rosnet - Stories Concerning The Heroes and Rituals (Self-Released, 2020)
Come glide through the interface between vivid imaginations and vibrant realities on this breathtakingly moving piece of ambient tenderness from sonically gifted producer Jean-Emmanuel Rosnet.
Understanding and perceiving the noises and notes around us has become an infatuation for some in the past few years, ever since the notion of crafting subscapes made up with that which we see and how we feel as a result came into being. We often associate certain musical pieces with certain places, an linkage formed by memory, emotional responses or precise impulses that generate deep set reactions from within, a soundtrack that unravels in our mind as we traverse a plain of context with immeasurable history and engagement. Music that looks to blend itself in with the surrounding context often takes a more ethereal tone to it, a light touch that begins as a lesson in familiarity before the swells begin to dominate our visions, binding itself into our train of thought as we look to fully immerse ourselves both visually and mentally. The musical notes that flow from all corners of the soundscapes that start to jump out at us become a sort of musical checklist that unravels in our minds, an ability to read between the lines and bring forth an intoxicating blend of melodic sequences and enriching textured notions which align themselves to our reactions and the emotions that start to take hold. Its about looking and exploring the realms of existence through these eyes, and for some producers this pairing of place with human tone has become a passion which has churned up some really impressive results. The art of ambient music remains very much in the idea of background filler, with listeners moving in and out of engagement dependant on mood, and for years now this has inspired many to interpret the softer and environmentally intuitive side of things to craft music that remains considered and deft but at the same time passive and quietly all encompassing, a juxtaposition that runs through the essence of the genre. Field recordings remain an important aspect of the genre, and look to paint a more vivid picture than the gorgeous void of its parent genre, in that music makers look to certain places in time to provide the parameters for their sounds. Its an interesting way to give the concept of Ambient a thinly veiled narrative, where words are never spoken but translated to us via floating tonal segments and spacious gaps in which the listener imprints themselves into the unravelling vividness. The genre is very much grounded within the realms that inhibit the space between the real and the imagined, with either natural systems or urban areas acting as a metaphorical guide to proceedings, with the instruments designed to provide us with some kind of lead on where we are being transported to. Perhaps it is the reactions we get from being in a naturalistic setting, where the rhythms of nature dictate the tone of what we see and feel, where the music remains fairly passive, aligning itself with the winds, bird song and smoothing sound of the sea. Or it might be the hustle and bustle of the urban realm which captures the imagination, but in a slightly differing way in that our reactors remain heightened as a result of endless activity, with the spaces between becoming less obvious but by no means any less intriguing. Maybe the worlds between them feel united as one, interpreted by those invested in the possibilities, but the outcomes always remain unique and intrinsic to the person who made it. We just choose when we want to inhibit that world, and how much we wish to take away from it, but the option remains there for all, no matter what mood you're in and how far you really want to astro travel.
As constructed soundscapes go, you won't find a much more refined, compassionate and intricately detailed musical universe as the one that is constructed from the fingers of French producer Jean-Emmanuel Rosnet. Rosnet has been making music for 15 years or so via varying monikers, but for the past several years has recorded under his own name with an emphasis on crafting emotionally tinged ambient landscapes that respond and flux so superbly with each passing second. A real sense of vividness and organicness underpins much of his musical approach, with a significant amount of time spent collecting recordings from the outside world which is then fed directly into the music making process, giving the music a real sense of dynamism that remains grounded in realism and recognisability. We become immediately drawn to the substantial layering found within the music, from the gently undulating synths to the thriving boundaries, to the sonically excellence dynamics and the crunchy samples, there is a lot to take in from Rosnet's music, but in that sense it gives a full picture of his vision. From start to finish, you feel engaged not just with the comings and goings of varying musical elements but you believe in the overall tone, the atmosphere remains pleasant and yet at the same time beautifully unfamiliar, a window into a world that blooms with a sense of clarity yet with so much to explore. You find yourself wondering relentlessly through the layered tones and textures, drawing nearer and nearer to the essence of the music, with each moment containing a piece of wonderment that continually snags at the adventurer in all of us. Its perhaps testament to Rosnet's visions for his music that allow for such a totality of immersion to occur, and from a ambient leaning sound it comes across as so much more than that, with a shifting presence that moves very much beyond the singular and into the multi-sided spectrum of things. This notion is very much apparent on the phenomenal 'The Distant Murmur Of The City', that arrived earlier this year, that as a record really helps to define what Rosnet's music is all about. The title of the album really helps to contextualise what you are about to experience, and the manner in which the music displays itself to us is one of standing on a hill, overlooking a urban centre waking up, with an awareness of hyper inter activity and yet we witness it from afar. The music remains extremely intricate as a result, but with a quiet restraint that places us on that hill, its power drawing from a few words and the visuals that begin to form in our head as a result. Its a texturally significant piece of work, with a significant amount of care going into the sonics of every single individual element, as if Rosnet is fine tuning what he hears in his head for us to experience, and it makes for a simply outstanding piece of music. If this was a sign of things to come, then we really are in for a treat, as we really hope for further moments in which we become wrapped around the little finger of atmospherical excellence. If you enjoy your musical narratives played out in the most luscious of ways, then we certainly recommend checking out this record, and you might find yourself dreaming endlessly about that hill top overlooking the city at dawn.
And now we arrive at his latest offering, 'Stories Concerning The Heroes and Rituals', which is Rosnet's second release of 2020. Primarily recorded during lockdown in the city of Lyon, Rosnet simply builds on the magic he began to craft and nurture during his previous effort and spreads the feels out over a 8 tracker, with a mixture of song lengths that provides a wider range of experimentation to occur in relation to the width and depth of tones and sonics. As a result, the album feels incredibly evocative of the rhythms of life itself, with the location moving away from a refined singular point of view and instead creating a sense of pause and reflection, movement and standing still, eyes closed or open, and the manner in which the record moves between these sensory fields is really something else. You feel energised by the anticipation of what might come next, the excitement in what might grow and develop within each self contained bit of brilliance, alongside getting to understand the universe in which this album inhabits a little bit more. So, without further delay, lets get into it....
Up next comes 'Beringia', and we immediately jump straight into it. The chiming cosmic chord line rides high above a sea of white noise and skippy short lived drumming sounds, as if the world is opening up to us in front of our eyes, crafting a very brief interlude into the kinds of sounds we are about to experience on this record. Up next comes 'Pearly white to pale pink', and the shift in focus is apparent from the off as the drums lead the way. Their placement is one of spacious rhythm, their presence one of warmth and reassurance, and they provide a wonderful foundation for the extremely rich melodic sequences to do their thing on top. The melody consists of ringing key lines and swirling high end arpeggios that burst with flavour around the kicks and congas, with a distinctly loose feel to craft a sense of spontaneous energy as the drums look to maintain the pulse. Its beautifully conceived and works extremely well as an experimental tool, providing a real sense of intrigue to the listener as we become fascinated with every little transition or flux that occurs throughout the melodic structures. Pretty mesmerising stuff. Up next comes 'Species and subspecies', and here we see the vibes of the previous two cuts coming together to craft something very special indeed. The swelling chords provide a sense of parameters to the sound, filling up the spaces to the left and right of the bars as they pass by, with a dense somewhat vocal lead sample aligning itself to the left of the panning whilst delicate keys operate in the right of the picture. The middle is where we find ourselves, an imprinting in which we do so very willingly in order to get a maximum level of engagement, and when this is achieved you find yourself drifting from left to right in order to meet and greet all the varying elements that persist in the track. Unbelievable. Up next comes 'La soie', and we arrive in a bedrock of sound strata, that begins off as one layer before multiplying significantly. The main synth driver pans across the spectrum of the track, providing a sense of rhythm and also something for the melodic to work from, as elements reach out in order to tap into its pulse, with a soft drumming pattern adding itself into a constantly moving soundscape that moves like the flow of water. Little sparks of light and life crop up here and there, an almost spontaneous feel to the progression that allows the tracks elements to weave and dip in and out of view, constantly moving with the times and shifting to align with our immediate field of view before drifting away into the distance. The track almost begins as full as possible, but then takes the time to unravel itself and place varying features at differing places in the vast landscape of sound, making it feel very much like a journey from A to B, and perhaps back again. Sublime.
Up next comes 'First Intermission', and this is another snapshot that provides yet another insight into how this universe works and operates. The track has a very deep underbelly, one that keeps a level of continually moving chiming notes that craft an intriguing sense of subtle rhythm, where the weave around a core thread leaves much to the imagination. its haunting, brooding, and provides a level of true escapism into the void. 'Mr V' arrives next, and the track sparkles into life immediately. The atmospherical fluidly metallic sample leads the charge in the backdrop as the main chord arrangement arrives into view, with little sound samples permeating here and there with gleeful abandonment. The vividness of each element is a real marvel, and this is made all the more exceptional when the clarinet comes into view, its tonal feel right at home in this melodically chopped up slice of heaven, one that constantly moves in and out of our view. The backdrop and the foreground expand and contract to provide a unreal sense of depth, with the spaces left behind left for little fragments of our imagination to become part of the ins and outs of the tune. Damn. 'KK v MLK' comes next, and this one remains very much within the subtleties of dynamic fluctuation. The sweeping chordal structures underneath are complimented by the flourishes of grainy samples on the left and right of the pan, with soft notes and chords joining through the middle. Its a deeply thought provoking piece of music, where the undulations of the melodies do their utmost to craft a sense of mood and tone that remains exceptionally deep, a tone that is set right from the off but in its initial craftsmanship it remains completely at home with its movement going forward. The little variations that populate its world are wonderfully moving, the lightest of touches that frequently cross our path but light up our imaginations, transporting us to a place where the movements of the earth seem that little bit slower to benefit us to take it all in. And finally, to finish up this little masterpiece, we have 'Our Repeated Sins', and this one begins in a particularly dynamic place indeed. The light flourishing sounds then give way for to a more refined sense of rhythm, with deep set drums starting to showcase their fullness, which grow and multiply as time moves on. This beautifully moving rhythmic structure then sees its totality come into fruition, as the singular chord gracefully sweeps across the track, providing that anticipation that dwelled within us, with the chord then becoming a lovingly curated sequence that moves between the lines. The spaces become less frequent as it develops into a fullness like no other, with the track then leading into a dip where the drums fall away for a brief time, allowing the keys to have their moment to shine, before it all comes full circle and rides us off into a dipping sunset that torches the sky with its immense colour and mood. A beautiful send off to an album that will forever remain within us, a part of us, a memory which we can always return to and get to know time and time again. Exceptional.
As you move between the various cuts on this record, you find yourself moving between a suite of feeling and mood, where the tracks contents allow for a flow to exude between each track whilst also providing a brilliant spectrum of imagined and real landscapes. Rosnet throughout demonstrates his excellence in the application of the elements alongside injecting his vision into every single facet of the music, with little touches here and there allowing his approaches to music making to really shine. There's moments that are unbelievably beautiful, where the chordal arrangements do much to connect to our emotional side, and there is a significant amount of brilliant drumming and soundscape sequences that help to perfectly balance out the flows and transitions. Most importantly of all, perhaps, is the invitations we receive from every cut to become a part of the self contained world that Rosnet is crafting for us - be it within the drums, or the sampled boundaries, or trying to find once more that swelling chord, there's a real sense of engagement that is often lost in ambient music, but here you constantly feel drawn into a world that only gets more bold and brave as time passed by. You feel the melodies and the sonics become one, and when you add yourself into the mix, its a perfected harmony that only persists from the most total of electronic records. A true stunner, in every sense of the word.
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