Enola: Alone
Initial Cuts

Alone offers a scenic travelogue through atmospheric techno and house climes with Enola (Matthieu Monnin, French DJ and one-time member of techno outfit Noirdegout) as your guide. Monnin's Enola sound updates ‘90s techno in a way that avoids sounding stale or retrograde, in large part due to its production polish, carefully-considered arrangements, and melodic strength. In short, the material on the seventy-two-minute collection sounds anything but slapdash.

Alone starts with a prototypical atmospheric prelude (“Once Upon A Time (Part 1)”)  before getting down to business. Ignore the unnecessary voicover in “Words In A Bottle” and focus instead on a funky tech-house groove that oozes a conspicuous Detroit influence in its high-octane rhythms and blinding electro sheen. Making full use of the track's eight minutes, Monnin bolsters the impact by escalating the intensity and deepening the bass throb, and brings a similar high production quality level to the album's other best cuts. “Pristi The Cat” similarly blends house and techno into a melodic set-piece of subdued character, before “The A Trip” escorts us on a smooth, ten-minute ride through radiant tech-house landscapes, while “Lascive” likewise gradually builds into a bubbly colossus until calming synth melodies surface two-thirds of the way in a futile attempt to arrest the mounting intensity. “Lost in Shibuya” naturally exudes a slight Asian character in its repeating melodic pattern, but it's the pulsating house pulse that stands out most. Monnin showcases his production skills in the moody and atmospheric “In Utero,” and then achieves lift-off in the high-energy “Once Upon A Time (Part 2)” before ending on a high with the melancholy epic “Utopia.”

One track impresses less than the others, and tellingly it's the sole piece not composed by Monnin. The song in question, “Sarah,” is an electro-rock vocal track written by Yules and featuring additional production by Monnin. Despite the presence of a doppler-like synth flourish that careens through the background (reminscent of “Trans-Europe Express”), the track's adherence to conventional song structure makes it feel anomalous in the album's context. Subtract “Sarah,” however, and you're still left with sixty-six minutes of quality music-making from the thirty-year-old producer. A solid outing, in other words.

December 2009