02 January 2007

Monovalley - deception island ep (2006)

When I discovered the French band Acetate Zero with their first album “Softcore Paradise” in 1999, I’ve been directly under the charm of Elsa Diot’s voice, hoping that she would take more place in the future of the band. But even if the following discography of this always underestimated band is more than recommended, this particular fact never happened, Acetate Zero always worked as a band.

Discovering this record, it seems that Elsa had somewhat the same expectations for herself, but this didn’t reach the light of the day until 2006. Hopefully it’s totally worth the wait, a dream finally comes true.

The name of her solo project is perfect, Monovalley, borrowed to Movietone who released in 1995 a 7inch of that name, the song “Mono Valley” also featured on their first self-titled album the same year. But we are nowhere close to a Movietone rip-off, even if the vocals of Kate Wright are probably one of her influences. Monovalley sounds closer to Empress, Havergal (circa “Elettricita”), Loobke (circa “Water & Boots”), The Very Hush Hush (circa “Washing songs”), early Saso or Bedhead, as a much more intimate, introspective, delicate and delicate version of what she does with Acetate Zero.

All the names featured in the last paragraph suffice to understand why, seen from here, Monovalley is a tremendous and astounding discovery. But the best is yet to come: the songs.

These are the four first songs of Monovalley and she still has to find a label to release these gems. All of them are mind-blowing and breathtakingly beautiful. Even if it is labeled as a solo project, she’s never playing alone, several friends are helping on the tracks and as a result the musical textures are complex, fresh and engaging. It’s not easy to pinpoint a genre, but the way she acts and the way emotions progress in the songs; their nature and the atmospheres around have definite slowcore characteristics. The level of achievement of the songs can also being considered as extremely high in terms of musical research and refinement.

The songs are short, less than three minutes, but always intense and original. “Bright Eyes” starts with a reverberated and minimal electric guitar, then some glockenspiel sounds are added and e-bow sounds, intimate vocals, some distant and muted drums give an occasional heartbeat, and a second electric guitar helps to build imagery of a vast, peaceful, clear sky just before dawn.

With constant beats, “Zennis” explores the Havergal/Arab Strap direction, but we are not too far also from the second Playdoh album, as Elsa’s voice shares some similarities with Marielle Martin’s one. But the result here is particularly highly intoxicating due to the emotional & intimate inflection of her voice and a very melancholic electric guitar à la Hood circa “Rustic Houses, Forlorn Valleys”.

With reverb and delay on the guitar, spontaneous and slow drums, “The Claiment” looks almost like a Chuzzlewit songs at first, but as the tension progress we move forward a Bedhead clearing, it is the more floating, blurry and translucent song of the ep. This direction is maintained on the last track, “Grim World”, which could be a long lost perfect Bedhead song, the main – only true - difference is that it is sung by a girl.

Great solo debut by Elsa Diot, let’s hope she will soon find the opportunity to release it properly on a good label and start working on more songs.


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