An overall homage to three decades of glitch make this record one of the most interesting electronic debuts of the year.
There is a growing faction within the less mainstream-oriented niches of electronic music of composers that seem to have somehow lost the plot. Quite literally. Sound itself -- now stripped to pure concept, rather than a notable musical construction -- is being twisted in a process which sees it roaming aimlessly without a clear path. In other words: the search for the perfect idea, the plethora of literature revolving around the trite relationship between sound and architecture, philosophy and even therapy, has deprived said artistic output of a proper and recognisable arrangement and framework. Sound follows sound, glitch is spawned by glitch to the detriment of pure composition. True, the likes of Plaid, Kangding Ray, Burial, to name but a few disparate names, still manage to retain a certain degree of consistency and organisation in their compositions, but the reality is that intellectualism is killing electronic music. For this, and other good reasons, an album like Glyphs, from Avvenir, aka audio artist Joel Ebner, is a welcome change.
If you think you know a guy going by the same name who plays in art-pop band City States, you are on the right path: we are indeed referring to the same person. And if you are wondering whether or not his experience in that band plays a role in the development and presentation of his music as an electronic composer, the answer is, once again, of a positive nature. Glyphs is pop music without the pretense of being pop music. It is a language whose beautiful prose is accessible, understandable, enjoyable and deep at the same time. Take the opener “Magenta”, for instance: the five-odd minutes the tune takes to rise, shine and set is a compendium of influences or, better, echoes from two decades ago, where the grammar of contemporary electronic music was being developed by, amongst many others, Coldcut (Let Us Play) and Amon Tobin, both of them following a more organic approach.
This is easily detectable, almost tangible, in tunes like “International Style”, “Univers”, and “Late Modern”, three fine examples of this resolution. There is no ABAB or AABA formula, but yet, the very flowing of the music determines a familiar mechanism and strategy which is hardly negligible. Even whenever Avvenir tries to slip away from the canons of the aesthetics which are proper of pop composition, the melody remains a fil rouge around which the drum and bass is constantly a palm away from the discernible and the recognisable. And whoever may think this is to the disadvantage of originality and brilliance, should think again, because this is what makes Glyphs a truly enjoyable experience.
References to Kraftwerk (“Émigré”), digressions in the magical world of Aphex Twin (“Prepress”), a palpable sense of devotion to Autechre and an overall homage to three decades of glitch make this record one of the most interesting electronic debuts of the year. Avvenir never meant to reinvent the wheel, simply because his music rests on four very reliable rollers on a secure path. The real challenge will manifest itself as soon as the artist will decide to deviate from the safety of the precepts to venture into the unknown. But if Avvenir will use the same tact he has proved he is so capable of adopting, the journey will be a thoroughly amusing trip.