Laudanum: Your Place & Time Will Be Mine

Thirteen lush electro-pop settings by Laudanum (France-based Matthieu Malon) that evoke a dark New Wave vibe in general and groups like Depeche Mode, Ladytron, and Soft Cell in particular (if in somewhat less overtly commercial manner). Malon deploys an interesting and largely successful strategy on Your Place & Time Will Be Mine (his follow-up to 2002's System:On) by using different singers throughout (Cavil, T, Angil, Christian Quermalet, Laëtitia Shériff, etc.), often alternating male and female voices from one song to the next (Malon's singing appears on the doom-laden “Cruise Control” and glammy “Perfect”). Intricate epics like “Left-Handed Right Mind” and the anthemic “Collide” are meticulous mini-symphonies (the material's intensity achieved sans guitars, a point Malon stresses) and the songs range widely within Malon's chosen genre: Noemie's distorted voice-over in “This 80's-Car” can't help but recall Ms. John Soda, shoegaze collides with turntable scratching in “Birds (Half a Lie),” and in perhaps the strongest track, Angil brings a compelling Bowie-esque vocal to the tight funk groove of “Left-Handed Right Mind.” Indicative of the album's contrast, Elsa Diot's (Monovalley) soft voice sweetens the bubbly synth-pop of “Be Mad or Whatever...” while non-programmed drums by Philippe Entressangle add a live kick to the masses of buzzing synthesizers in the raucous “To Leave and Return.”

May 2006