It is the worst of times, and it is the best of times, for music. Industrial streaming algorithms (often at the expense of artists) have spiked conspicuous and mindless consumption at the severe cost of mindful listening. But music has also been increasingly democratized in recent decades. Now one can create wonders with relatively inexpensive gadgets in non-industrial settings. The sound crafting process is unmoored from its reliance on traditional instruments made of metal, hides, and wood, those that need to be struck to produce vibrations. Electrical, electronic, and digital manipulations have rapidly expanded acousmatic possibilities, where the origin of the sound is not immediately apparent. New and ambiguous sounds, with all their beauty and dread, produce new frontiers of musical emotion and creativity.
Ocoeur’s 'Inner' squarely showcases that multiverse of electronic possibilities and reaffirms my conviction that good electronica, pressed on quality wax, can be listened to again and again, with or without thunderstorms and crackling fires.
Through and through, Franck Zaragoza’s fifth album 'Inner' wants to instill in the listener a grateful feeling of being enthralled by mysterious islands of mellifluousness. It coaxes wonderment about the process of obfuscation, whereby one is not immediately sure how those sounds come to be. If sounds were colorful river stones, Ocoeur shows how to chisel them to reflect their colors; how to make them soft and brittle or rotund and sharp. In short, this album is a longish inspiring note on how to unapologetically paint beauty, surrender, and solitude, with meticulous melody, mystic ambiance, and muted/mutating beats.
Take the last track Shelter, (from an already stunning B side) which arrives with a slow, shimmering blanket of warm drones, just enough to leave an outer shroud of light, digital fuzz. The sparse dreamy-eyed keys that thread out from this intricate blanket evoke a sense of forgoing, as one feels when falling in love sitting beside a vast lake where mountains come to offer their rain and fog. In my mix “The Silent Spaces of Light” I meditate with 'Shelter' and portions of Max Richter’s 'Sleep' as if both tracks were born gazing at the same star.
The title track, 'Inner' (which also introduces the album) is a resounding victory of electronic musicianship, and the opening track preempts the closing as it opens with those deep and deeply satisfying heavy, undulating drones. Sounds seem to be made from the giant ghost of a cello, or organs the size of a cumulonimbus cloud, or by manipulating the sound signals of whales in blue depths. The opening orchestral bloom that ensues on top of those floor rumbling lows makes me anticipate with subtle doses of serotonin. There is so much beauty in all this, so much mysterious resonance of layers of sounds bought as if by a spring breeze shuffling through the green pines of my childhood.
I am ready to dim the lights and become available for a transformative movement among the different galaxies of emotions. And Ocoeur indeed covers a lot of emotional ground. My feelings range from the stark trepidations and rush of Passage (albeit retro-fitted with Deru-esque melodic synths) to the poise and exceptional comfort of Mother (Thanks to Deep Field for curating the track in his recent TrueVinylAlternative Radio show called Late Night Vinyl.)
Ocoeur's work will take you far, but especially this gold vinyl LP issue of 'Inner' will take you further into the depths of your sonic and aesthetic sensibilities. After all, if you read the first and last tracks of the album together, it reads “Inner Shelter.” Whatever that is, it is here.
by Drastic Steps.
Favorite track: Shelter.