Agoria, Impermanence

Lee Smith

By Lee Smith

on 02.01.11 in Reviews

Arguably the most diverse and ambitious artist that emerged from the French electronica scene throughout the 2000s, Agoria's scaled-up eclecticisms have nonetheless always been rooted in a kind of classic techno sensibility, coming back again and again to the homely bump of the four-four kickdrum. But as anyone who's spent time with his three previous albums, or indeed his wildly far-reaching At the Controls mix compilation will know, Sébastien Devaud uses techno as a platform rather than a final destination, allowing simple motifs to blossom into complex, elegantly-forged pieces operating some way beyond the functional thrum of the dancefloor.

Modern house and techno moods with high-profile collaborators

Opener "Kiss My Soul," like its partner cut "Heart Beating," features the impressive vocal contributions of Kid A, whose Björk-ish vowels work well against Devaud's plaintive piano and string flourishes. But besides these two pop-inflected moments, the album stays harnessed to modern house and techno moods, tied together by the occasional lush ambient interlude.



Agoria's always managed to surround himself with high-profile collaborators, and Impermanence is no different, featuring tracks produced with one of Detroit's hottest recent techno talents (Seth Troxler) and one of its most garlanded vets (Carl Craig). "Souless Dreamer" is a gentle, dubbed-out meander that works Troxler's distant, breathy lyrics across icy hypnotic pulses, and "Speechless" stars a surprising spurt of erotic poetry from Carl Craig, perhaps cementing the notion that techno and sexiness are perhaps not the easiest of bedfellows.

Elsewhere, cuts like "Grande Torino" and "Little Shaman" ratchet up the intensity, delivering stadium-scale bass booms and driving atmospherics, seemingly precision-engineered for big-room destruction. But it's the cascading, unobtrusive harmonics of the achingly pretty closer "Libellules" that really articulate Agoria's most enticing talents, drifting in and out of focus like a half-remembered dream. A master-craftsman of modern European electronics who knows never to lose sight of his dance music roots, Impermanence is Agoria's most fully-realized effort to date, and one of the genre's most impressive albums so far this year.