Julien Neto – Le Fumeur De Ciel


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Apr 3, 2011

Courtesy of Alex Brooks who published the note on Facebook, I thought it was a nice read and asked his permission to share it here.

I’m gonna break the fourth wall and tell you why I wrote this, it isn’t so much a review as an opinion piece, and I really do implore everybody to check this album out, regardless of what you primarily listen to right now. You may not be in the mood for it right away, but if you do have an interest in real music, listen with open ears and you’re not some genre whore you will probably find a way to enjoy this album in a context, if not fall in love with it. I picked it up in 2005 and since then I’ve listened surely over a hundred times. It’s been my soundtrack to late night drives through the pitch black country, or lonely walks through a park while burning one down. Just as I want to slash throats when people (who usually listen to chainsaw drilling hardcore music) insinuate that my DJ sets are only for opening or closing a night; you must realize that this IS listening music and if all you do is fall asleep to it, you’re really missing the fucking point. Anyways I’m getting all passionate now, Brooks implores you to check this out, please let me know if you do!

Ambient music is a hell of a thing to dive into. Much like house, the genre is extremely vast, with numerous sub-styles and even completely differing philosophies regarding how the music is “supposed” to be enjoyed. Some people will tell you (Brian Eno springs to mind) that it’s not listening music, but something to be thrown on in the background while you eat, read, or even clean the house. Erik Satie created his “Furniture Music” to be played in very specific locations by live musicians, again just to set the atmosphere of a room. You’ve always got the new-agey types, long droney, glacially paced, barely moving soundscapes usually advertised to relax you or send you off to sleep. And of course on the other side, there is ambient “listening music”.

Biosphere’s classic Substrata or Global Communication’s 76:14 are easily cornerstones of ambient, and to do anything less than shut the fuck up and sit next to the speakers in awe is a serious disservice to the craftsmanship of what you just popped into the player. The mid 2000s saw a massive boost in ambient listening music. Labels like Miasmah, Touch, Bedroom Community, Type, and many others are still releasing quality output in this vein.

Flashback to 2005. Enter Julien Neto, and his only album to date “Le Fumeur De Ciel”. This album is most certainly meant to be listened to. Released on Type, Mr. Neto explores nocturnal soundscapes with an expert hand.

From the moment the skittery, barely-there percussion starts on “I (One)”, you know you’re in for something special. The blend of the classical elements with electronic is absolutely seamless, and the album sits nicely in the middle. If you’re a fan of classical music, you’ll surely see this as something at least slightly alien, but it’s definitely not an all “electronic” album. “Sketch” continues the journey, starting off with cold tones, and quickly blossoms to be one of the lushest and most melodic pieces on the album, like a dance through a garden at midnight. Lovely. Keith Kenniff a.k.a. Helios makes a pretty big mark on “VI” with his trademark piano playing laid over drugged out downtempo beats. “Keats” and “Musicbox” keep the tone going nicely towards “Voy” which is definitely the centerpiece of the album, some might recognize it from the Neo Ouija “Cottage Industries 3” compilation earlier in the year. “V (Rivers)” reminds one of “Sketch” with it’s lovely classical flourish in the middle, and after this tune the album keeps a very dark tone until the last echo. Fans of Twin Peaks will recognize Dale Cooper starting off “Questionable Things” with some advice. A pretty relevant sample when taking in the context of the album, dark and somewhat tense, but it’s a beautiful darkness. “III” and “Farewell” are certainly solid closers to the album, with a bit more glitchy percussion showing it’s face right at the end.

At just over 40 minutes, the album doesn’t overstay his welcome, and even for people who only listen to “ardcore” music you should be able to stay awake and listen unless you have serious attention deficit problems. There are many sounds and ideas that are presented in an entirely cohesive manner. Not ONE of these tunes sounds suited to daytime, and you really do get that feeling of reading a dark poem or watching a David Lynch movie. Against it’s peers, the album stands fantastically well, and certainly the genre of “ambient listening” is nothing if not over-saturated these days. It can be very difficult to sift through, which is why I’m here. GET THIS. GET IT NOW!

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