Ensemble Economique: Melt Into Nothing
Denovali Records

The Eye Of Time: Acoustic
Denovali Records

Upon listening to Acoustic, one would be hard pressed to believe that French musician Marc Euvrie (aka The Eye Of Time) has deep connections to the French DIY punk and hardcore scenes. Yet while that is true, Euvrie is also a classically trained musician who began playing the piano at the age of nine, composing at fifteen, and studying cello after finishing school. His latest release, a six-track mini-album, arrives after 2012's self-titled debut recording and memorably documents the non-electronic side of his music-making.

Euvrie pinpointed different locations and times as a conceptual and creative impetus for the project, but no in-depth familiarity with such details is required for one to benefit from the work—simply listening will suffice. Even a single run-through reveals a strong similarity between the style of music presented on Acoustic and those of Philip Glass and Michael Nyman, and, the cello's presence notwithstanding, the release invites comparison to Glass's own Solo Piano release, never more so than during “Treblinka, Poland, 2 August 1943.” Euvrie's music at times achieves a density that likens it to Lubomyr Melnyk's Continuous Music style, such as during the second half of “Catalonia, Spain, 1936” where the rolling clusters of the piano assume a weight and solidity that borders on architectural.

Unabashedly romantic and emotional in tone, Euvrie's neo-classical settings are easy to embrace, especially when they're so melodically rich. There's a pronounced rhythmic drive to the material, too, in large part due to the pulsation generated by the arpeggio patterns that chime throughout the six pieces. Moods of varying kinds are explored, be they dramatic (“Dead Sea, Cisjordan, -150.000”), melancholy (“Rondane, Norway, 750,” “Somewhere, 2041”), or stately (“Catalonia, Spain, 1936”), and Euvrie introduces contrast by adding cello to especially beautiful effect in a few of the tracks: “Rondane, Norway, 750” and “Exarchia, Athens, Greece, September 2008-February 2009” prove particularly haunting when the cello's plaintive voice is factored in.

By comparison, Ensemble Economique's Melt Into Nothing—also a six-track mini-album—is a bit harder to pin down, stylistically speaking. In search of a label, one might propose post-rock, but the music's too shape-shifting for that one to stick too solidly; perhaps gauzy, atmospheric dreampop comes closer. Described in the press notes as the project's “most lucid seance to date,” the thirty-six-minute recording is the creative spawn of Humboldt County musician Brian Pyle. It's a solo affair by the one-time Starving Weirdos member, with the exception of beats and bass synth contributions by Parisian artist Sophia Hamadi on a couple of tracks and a vocal contribution by Torontonian Denmother to “Your Lips Against Mine.”

With Hamadi and Denmother aboard, the chiming dreamscape “Your Lips Against Mine” drifts into being as a melancholy guitars-and-synths reverie sweetened with ethereal vocalizing—melt into nothing indeed. Pyle's raw electric guitar playing bleeds all over the second cut, “Make-Out in the GDR,” in such a way as to evoke the desolate dust plains of the American south. The trippy and experimental sides of the Ensemble Economique equation move to the fore in “Fade For Miles” when backwards tape manipulations appear amidst a hazy brew of organ tones, programmed drum beats, and ghostly wisps of vocal emissions. That track's psychedelic dimension carries over into the comparatively more nightmarish “Never Gonna Die,” a hypnotic excursion that sees vocals rising to an anguished pitch alongside haunted organ playing and programmed drums. The combination of dreampop swoon and dusty post-rock is effectively instantiated in the downtempo moodscape “Hey Baby,” where whispered vocal accents drift alongside shoegaze guitar textures and Jon Pyle's live drum source material.

That Melt Into Nothing remains a somewhat mysterious and enigmatic recording does nothing to lessen the pleasure one derives from listening to it, and certainly the music is accessible without any compromise to the integrity of the Ensemble Economique project itself.

July 2014