As one of the co-founders of Parisian imprint Antinote, Nicolas Motte has helped establish a label where myriad tastes are more than catered for. His own music is defined by the same multifarious instincts. Motte is also one half of graphic design duo Check Morris who, peculiarly enough, were commissioned to produce the artwork for Lily Allen’s first album, a case of take the money and run, judged by what Motte has turned his eye to in recent years.
It’s fortunate that Motte has subsequently focused on the visual identity of Antinote along with his Check Morris partner Mathias Pol. Striking designs which dip into new age, psychedelia, and the iconic aura of retro sci-fi, they’re a fitting representation for a label with such a stylistically fluid roster.
Motte’s music on the other hand denotes a similar sensibility to that of Domenique Dumont, who’s antic afro-dub and blithe Balearic pop was released to cult acclaim on Antinote last year. There’s the same sense of happy accidents, carefree trajectories and sparkling touches pervading Motte’s productions, yet substituted for Dumont’s sunnier touchstones are synth futurist explorations which venture into cosmic prog, proto-house and off-key electro boogie.
As with Dumont’s outing on the label, Motte never outstays his welcome. Proceedings are never needlessly prolonged. The title track clocks in at a mere three minutes but Motte manages to convey enough atmosphere and drama for it to take on the significance of a soundtrack theme. With a low end that recalls Colleen’s dub derivations on Captain of None, prickly drum machine rhythms, and crystalline keys that seem to project a vision of some Adriatic idyll, it’s complacently but appealingly lax.
On ICA the robust jack of a Master C & J production meets synth science as immense beaming chords assail the mix, as if simultaneously hammered out on a multitude of synths. Tiger for Breakfast is just as much of a departure from the poise and composure of the albums opening, and the ascendant intensity of its precedent. Otherworldly absorption which opens with field recordings of wildlife bustle – all unpredictable squawks and cackles - it seems to be fixed in a constant skyward gaze. Much of what Motte does in more reflective moments, as in this instance, seems suffused with the melancholically tinged new age wonder of Tangerine Dream’s Love On A Real Train. Vitally though, these passages interlock and cohere with more effervescent stirrings like La figure de Rey which reaches again for the frame of a classic house bassline but repurposes it for an askew form of instrumental boogie where boldly bent keys take centre stage.
Tacotac follows in a similar vein but has more fun doing so. A sportive, insouciant French voice animates the exuberance, one defined by a more indolent but similarly buoyant form of lavish space disco to that of vintage Metro Area, which judged by the undimmed maturation of that material is no more feat. It shows a poppier side to Motte than perhaps expected from 2014’s Rheologia, one that when embraced and indulged fully draws out the kind of sultry, plush music that can act as a soundtrack to the escapism and truancy of an ideal Summer.
With the likes of Dumont and Motte, Antinote are onto something special.
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