Amute: Savage Bliss
Three:four Records

Some electronic producers are dizzyingly prolific whereas others issue music relatively rarely. Having issued five aMUTE albums over a ten-year period, Belgian alchemist Jérôme Deuson clearly falls into the latter category. textura reviewed his first albums, A Hundred Dry Trees and The Sea Horse Limbo (both intr_version), when they appeared in 2004 and 2006, respectively, though missed out on hearing Infernal Heights For A Drama, the set Deuson released in 2009 on Stilll, the Belgium label he co-founded with Alain Lefebvre in 2004. The release of Savage Bliss, the first aMUTE recording to appear on Three:four Records, offers an opportunity for us to reacquaint ourselves with Deuson's project.

Recorded at Hopedrive Studio in Brussels, Savage Bliss includes no clarifications regarding instrumentation aside from a note about field recordings, some of which originate from “roads between Las Vegas and Mesquite.” The aural evidence suggests, however, that, as on previous recordings, Deuson generated the material using primarily guitar and laptop (though piano figures prominently in the closing title track, too). It's a production methodology not unlike the one associated with Fennesz, a detail that explains perhaps why his name is typically mentioned when aMUTE's music is discussed. Certainly there are similarities: aMUTE shares with Fennesz a concern for atmosphere and textural detail; there's a strong emotional, some might say nostalgic, undercurrent within Deuson's productions (the album is, after all, subtitled an album about love and other lies), just as there is within Fennesz's; and the flickering surges and sheets of granular sound that progressively drown the listener during “Empirical Evidence” will do little to discourage Fennesz comparisons. Yet the connection between the two shouldn't be taken too far: aMUTE is, after all, a separate project and stands alone.

Certain Savage Bliss tracks stand out, among them “Lonely Vegas Trust,” where electric guitar shadings resonate clearly amidst a churning backdrop of haze, and “The Short Mess,” whose title errs in suggesting disorder where there's instead windswept beauty. The album's arguable peak arrives in “You're in The Air I Breathe,” a powerfully affecting set-piece distinguished by a yearning melodic quality. With eight panoramic soundscapes traversing melancholy terrain, Savage Bliss amounts to forty-four minutes of guitar-and-laptop-generated experimentalism that will hardly disappoint listeners won over by previous aMUTE releases.

July 2014