anthéne: repose
Polar Seas Recordings

We had the distinct pleasure of reviewing Polar Seas Recordings' last release, a 2014 split affair involving North Atlantic Drift and Northumbria, and are more than happy to review the Toronto-based label's latest, a cassette release (issued in a limited run of forty copies) by one-half of North Atlantic Drift, Brad Deschamps. repose is the fitting title for this eight-track collection by him under the anthéne guise, with all of the material based around fairly minimal guitar loops and enhanced by synthesizer and melodica.

Deschamps' preference for lower-case titles immediately cues the listener to the understated tone of the project, but don't think for a moment that the thirty-three-minute recording's lacking in charm. In fact, it's consistently lovely stuff, and Deschamps turns out to be a bit of a sly sort in the way he so insidiously sneaks sweetly melodic content into these concise instrumental settings. Anything but abrasive, the typical repose track etches out a serene space for anywhere from three to five minutes, filling the air as it does so with soothing swathes of hazy guitar and synth textures. Though there's a bit of a Fennesz-ian quality to the material's sound design, the music's ambient character puts distance between Deschamps' project and those of other producers. Having said that, its ambient leanings align it in places to Eno: the cassette's final pieces, “prophet II” and “repose II,” for example, wouldn't sound of place on Music For Films, especially when synth tones figure so prominently.

For those who like their ambient productions suffused with melancholy and longing, head directly to “trial of the century” for four-and-a-half minutes of the loveliest material of its kind available in this time zone or any other for that matter; it's not alone, either, with “mount hopeless” doing much the same minutes later. Much praise to Deschamps for bringing sounds of such grace and beauty into the world.

January 2016