Clara Moto: Polyamour

Austrian producer Clara Moto (real name Clara Prettenhofer) weaves fifty-five minutes of elegant microhouse tracks into a better-than-average debut album. It's actually her third release on the French label InFiné, with the respective 2007 and 2008 twelve-inch releases, Glove Affair and Silently, having appeared already (some of their tracks reappear on the full-length). The album comprehensively documents Moto's rich and sultry production style as well as her talent for crafting jacking microhouse beats.

“Emory Bortz” (the name taken from a character in Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49) nicely kicks off the album with a melancholy blend of chiming piano accents, synth atmospheres, and a snappy techno pulse, after which “Alma” gradually works up to a deliciously jacking funk-house groove. “Deer & Fox” is the first of three songs featuring guest vocalist Mimu (Miriam Mone) whose speaking voice emits a Björk-like hiccup that thankfully disappears when she sings; the vocal tracks boost the album by bringing contrast to the instrumentals, and on “Deer & Fox” Mimu's rich voice blends nicely with Moto's sparkling, bass-prodded swing. She then works a rumbling bass pulse into the low end of the minimal house cut “Glove Affair” amidst a mix of synth flares and see-sawing melodies before moving the album away from clubby tracks and into more atmospheric set-pieces where beats recede into the background or disappear altogether. Her artful approach to sound design is never better presented than during “Song of Exhaustion and Ivory” where the dreamily exotic atmosphere suggests a caravan of elephants trudging across the plains. The beats take five for the texture-heavy soundscape “Goodnight Twilight,” which precedes “Joy of My Heart” where Mimu's entranced voice floats above a fluid interweave of synthetic and treated sounds. Heading home, Polyamour returns to its dancier side for the minimal house funk of “Silently,” which nicely aligns Mimu's radiant vocal melodies with a faintly Carribean vibe. If the album doesn't ultimately come across as groundbreaking, it does register as a more-than-solid collection by a rising star.

March 2010