Vanessa Wagner: New album ‘Mirrored’ out now

French pianist Vanessa Wagner collects solo piano studies of graceful minimalism and rare finesse for new album ‘Mirrored’, out now on InFiné  → Listen / Buy

Quickly following March 2022’s Study of the Invisible album, Vanessa Wagner returns with a new collection of work that paints in many colours. The application of shadow in Mirrored evokes haunting poignancy; the care and delicateness of its negative space leaves room for undulating melodic motifs to ebb and flow; its bold splashes of luminescence are striking and rich. And while the album collates re-interpretations of works by composers as varied as Ryuichi Sakamoto, Philip Glass, Nico Muhly, Moondog, Leo Ferré and Camille Pépin, the potency and effect of the collection as a whole reflects only Vanessa Wagner and the extraordinary breadth of her abilities.

Performing solo, exposed to timbre, tempo and clarity, many of the pieces here – such as “Sea Horses” by (Vanessa’s one-time mentor) Moondog or Philip Glass’ “Etude 4” – demand virtuosic abilities as a performer and interpreter. But in Vanessa Wagner’s hands, they are not only made her own, but made mesmeric and magical by the sensitivity of her touch.

A highly practiced and invaluably unpredictable musician, Vanessa Wagner occupies many twin worlds. She unites conservatoire-classical (she has performed Haydn, Schumann, Schubert, Debussy, Ravel et. al. at highly prestigious concert halls worldwide) with contemporary composition and minimalism. She has both worked alongside electronic musician Murcof and received significant commendation from eminent classical musical institutions in France and abroad. She has both enjoyed awards as a concert pianist and purposefully selected works by emerging and unheard talents within her repertoire. It is little wonder she has been described in print as “the most delightfully singular pianist of her generation” and “one of the most curious and captivating pianists on the French scene.”

Mirrored opens with Philip Glass’ “The Poet Acts”, whose rising spires of melody contrast with tumbling chords at their base. The piece is challenging, but Wagner’s mastery renders it achingly powerful and arrestingly pretty. Later in the album, Vanessa’s interpretation of “Solitude” by Ryuichi Sakamoto yearns with heartbreaking melancholy in its opening, before blooming into floral vibrancy and curiosity at its close. Nico Muhly’s introspective “Quiet Music” marks another highlight.

An exploration of restraint, grace and personal authenticity, its resonating harmonic structures and gossamer tempo are here sophisticated, elegant, exquisitely rewarding like softly whispered poetry. Elsewhere on the album Vanessa picks compositions by young French composers such as the Les Victoires de la Musique composer of the year Camille Pepin and Melaine Dalibert alongside time-honoured masters. Also present are a rare piano work composed by Chanson Française hero Leo Ferré and a solo piece by Parisian ambient-experimental mainstay Sylvain Chauveau. And yet, consistently across Mirrored, the voice we hear most prominently is Vanessa’s own.

This new album has been recorded at TAP-Théâtre-Auditorium de Poitiers and entirely produced in Dolby Atmos version.

Artwork: original sculpture by French artist Laurent Pernot, “The Kiss”. Photo: Marine Keller / Design: Motoplastic

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Tour dates

Twin Color

Murcof presents new solo project ‘Twin Color’

Mexican electronic producer Fernando Corona, aka Murcof, unites with Simon Geilfus, once of Belgian A/V crew AntiVJ, to create a virtual world for new solo project: Twin Color

New “Extended Play No 1” EP to be released on December 2 on InFiné

Murcof’s love of modular analogue synthesis, sonic world-building and studio experimentation makes an easy marriage with Geilfus’ graphically sculptured creative work. Twin Color offers a futurist nostalgia voiced in part by Murcof’s four-year-old daughter Alina and – at least for this debut EP – accompanied by the creation of a graphic world described by Murcof as “like a contemplative video game, a “playable” world where the “player” can explore and affect the music as they go along inside this virtual environment”.

Even consumed as a traditional EP release, Extended Play No 1 is just as
immersive and mesmerising as the video game and AR parallel universes that Murcof points to as influences: intensely coloured, grand and sweeping, growling with inherent darkness. Melodic lines eddy and whorl together while moonrays of Blade Runner synthesis shine brightly across the shadows.

At times it is stately in its melancholia, at others driving with the exhilarating rhythm of final boss levels. Murcof (Tijuana-born, Barcelona-residing Fernando Corona) writes that “I started working on Twin Color during the 1st wave of the pandemic, back in early/mid 2020. I was playing around in the studio trying to come up with some ideas for a possible new Murcof album. Those first sketches were a bit Murcofy, but very soon afterwards it became obvious this was something else and that indeed it required its own unique name.”

Inspired by the radio in the Tijuana and San Diego of Murcof’s youth – stations such as 91X (FM) and the Mighty 690 (AM) – as well as bands such as OMD, Depeche Mode, Thompson Twins, Book of Love, Ultravox, Murcof took this longing nostalgia (noting, also, that during the pandemic he hit the milestone of turning 50) and married it with his own future-facing sound design and compositional style. These studio experiments were closely bound to his young daughter’s emerging musicality:

“Alina was visiting me quite regularly in the studio. I began recording our little jam sessions just for funand perhaps also as a way of showing her some of the sound manipulation possibilities on the computer. But later, when I was again on my own working on the music, I thought I would give some of the more melodic bits of her voice a try on the demos I was making, time stretching, formant shifting and autotuning it as I went along.”

Having met Simon Geilfus at Manchester’s Futuresonic festival in 2009, collaborating on visual accompaniment to a performance of Murcof’s Cosmos album, the pair performed together throughout mid 2010’s, in Europe, China, USA, Mexico, Canada, and Russia. Though this collaboration was a very different project to Twin Color – a straighter live A/V show – the creative groundwork for Extended Play N°1 was already seeded. Murcof invited Geilfus to create visuals for Twin Color as the demos began to take shape. The duo opted to employ the graphics software Unreal Engine 5 to create a virtual universe to house the music of Extended Play N°1: while Geilfus is now working to expand the engine’s capabilities through C++ programming to fit the needs of the project more precisely, Murcof is using the Metasounds audio system (part of Unreal Engine) to mirror and match Simon’s creative tech advances.

→ More about Twin Color

→ More about Murcof

Seb Martel

New video : Seb Martel – My Best Friend


Seb Martel - My Best Friend

French guitarist shares new video for “My Best Friend”, directed by Thomas Rabillon → Stream

My Best Friend, the latest single of Seb Martel’s album Saturn 63, is a solemn acoustic ballad featuring the vocal work of Cindy Pooch. Sparkling, understated guitar arpeggios are complemented by a light percussive beat born out of the sounds made from tapping the instrument. The track was conceived in collaboration with InFiné and Musée de la Musique, for his upcoming project in which every non-vocal sound comes from one of the guitar’s in the museum’s legendary collection. In Seb’s words, the track is an “Old bouncing song driven by a secret digital mechanism, where old friends with broken paths follow each other under the effect of a strange vocal weaving sheltering a golden thread named Cindy.” The gentle vocal delivery and twinkling guitar plucks are reminiscent of classic indie songsmiths like Elliott Smith, Sparklehorse, and Grandaddy. 

→ Stream/buy the album
→ More about Seb Martel

sabrina bellaouel

Pre-order: Sabrina Bellaouel’s debut album ‘Al Hadr’

Artwork: Nina Meziani, MTPC

Sabrina Bellaouel’s debut album ‘Al Hadr’ to be released March 3, 2023 – Pre-order now!

On Al Hadr, Sabrina Bellaouel taps into myriad influences: from spirituality, astrology to club culture, romance, the body and self-love. Creating a balance between places, identities and sounds is a huge part of the charm of Al Hadr. As a true Libra, she’s finding a balance between honoring her roots and carving out her future.

→ More about Sabrina Bellaouel


New video: UTO – Row Paddle

UTO shares new video for “Row Paddle”, from their debut album Touch The Lock → Stream / Buy

“Row Paddle” is the third and last episode of UTO‘s Poetic saga directed by Cestainsi collective, from the duo’s debut album Touch The Lock.

“The song is a martial prayer for those who feel sunk. Like a fruit tree engulfed by the waves, the castaway asks his branches to blossom in spite of everything and to bear fruit in the ordeal “make sure my branches bear fruit” – Neysa & Emile (UTO)

“A driving, delirious drumbeat and synth combo with an anarchic spirit” Pitchfork

28.11 – Release Party @ la Maroquinerie – Paris
→  Tickets


O’o releases new version of “Lost” song

French duo O’o unveils an alternative version of their single “Lost” → Stream

‘Lost’ is a personal and intimate song, unvarnished in its honesty, exploring the childish fear of monsters in the closet with music that offers relief from the terrors. Stripping back the crystalline layers of already sparse production, the Acoustic Version leaves nothing but Victoria’s delicate, inimitable voice and Mathieu’s sparkling arpeggios in a campfire version worthy of the all time greats of indie folk.

28.11 – Live in Berlin – Kantine am Berghain w/ Léonie Pernet

→  Tickets

→  More about O’o


InFiné presents: Léonie Pernet + O’o live in Berlin, Berghain Kantine

InFiné proudly invites you to two concerts with pop accents, emotional textures and a touch of Je ne sais quoi with our artists Leonie Pernet & O’o !

In their own way, the two projects of presented during the evening represent a hybrid and cosmopolitan French indie-electronic scene that draws its influence from the fascinating soundscape of the British electronica labels of the 2000s and uses words to challenge our senses and understanding. 

→ Tickets


gaspar claus

Gaspar Claus live at Royal Albert Hall London



Gaspar Claus will play at the London Royal Albert Hall on November 25th, 2022 → Tickets

French cellist Gaspar Claus performs music from his debut solo album Tancade, with electronic instrumentation by Basile 3, in an intimate live gig.

Gaspar Claus is a French master cellist with an unconventional approach to his instrument. His musical academic background combines with a positive ‘looseness’ to set his work apart within the world of contemporary music. His album Tancade, was described as “nothing short of breathtaking” by Gold Flake Paint; “a collection of exceptional cinematic mood pieces, guided by a visionary cellist” by Bleep; and supported by BBC3 and BBC6.

Infos & tickets
More about Gaspar Claus

Toh Imago

Toh Imago announces new album with first single ‘Monde Intérieur’

French producer Toh Imago announces the release of  his second album on InFiné, with first single “Monde intérieur” Listen

Photo: Marine Keller 
Artwork: David Normant / Motoplastic

A gem of headphone techno, Monde Interieur is a track that reengineers dystopian vocoder and drum patterns from Detroit electro and immerses them into an entrancing soundscape of aerial waves and reality-anchored field recordings. Toh Imago’s “Monde Intérieur”, the lead single from his forthcoming album Refuge, is out January 20th on InFiné. It is, in a sense, the title track of the album, in that it translates to “the inner word” and refers to the album’s global concept directly. Toh Imago found himself like many, stuck in a seemingly unending period of anxiety, seeking out mental refuge in music both as a listener and a creator. The “inner world” referenced in this first single, took shape in his imagination as a nostalgic, calming forest that brought him back to childhood in many ways. To pull this nostalgia out of the hypothetical and into the literal, he spliced in bits of childhood song.

Pre-order the album 

More about Toh Imago 


Sabrina Bellaouel shares new single ‘Trust’

French-Algerian artist Sabrina Bellaouel shares the glorious new future R&B single ‘Trust’, announcing her highly anticipated debut album Al-Hadr, out 3rd March Stream

Photos: Tom Kleinberg

Inspired by one of her favorite film heroines: Jasmine, from Disney’s Aladdin, ‘Trust’ sees Sabrina’s soulful vocals and love of r&b flirt with elements of jersey club and hyper-pop as she muses on identity, heritage and her experiences in the white male-dominated music industry. Interspersed throughout with sunkissed guitar riffs and snippets of sugary vocal samples, it’s an effervescent bop that marks an evolution in sound and showcases her honed production skills. And while ‘Trust’ paves the way for Sabrina’s sensational forthcoming album, it’s merely a hint of what’s to come from the soul-baring record.

More about Sabrina Bellaouel


Vanessa Wagner shares new single “Quiet Music” [Nico Muhly]

Vanessa Wagner unveils the last extract of her next album “Mirrored” → Stream / Pre-order 

Pianist Vanessa Wagner’s latest cut from her forthcoming album Mirrored is a performance of Nico Muhly‘s composition “Quiet Music” taken from his debut album in 2006. The title of the piece may appear misleading. If the notes of Vanessa’s piano seem to feed on the silences, the piece remains imbued with a hidden melody, almost sacred, evocative of Arvo Part which shapes throughout these four minutes a singular form of immersive and heady quiescence.

About Nico Mulhy
Nico Mulhy, who is a New York based Julliard graduate and notable composer often considered the successor to Philip Glass, has also worked with the likes of the English National Opera, Metropolitan Opera, Björk, Sufjan Stevens, Grizzly Bear, Antony and the Johnsons, Bryce Dessner, and more. “Quiet Music” comes via InFiné October 13th, ahead of Mirrored’s release on on November 25th.

→  More about Vanessa Wagner
→ Pre-order the album


UTO: New video “À La Nage”

UTO shares new video for “A la nage”, from debut album Touch The Lock → Stream / Buy


15.10 – TOURCOING – Le Grand Mix
28.10 – CLERMONT-FERRAND – La Cooperative de Mai
30.10.22 – STRASBOURG – La Laiterie
05.11.22 – MASSY – Les Primeurs de Massy
16.11.22 – BREST – La Carène
17.11.22 – NANTES – Le Stereolux
18.11.22 – RENNES – L’Antipode
28.11.22 – PARIS – La Maroquinerie Tickets

More about UTO

toh imago

Toh Imago returns with new track “Insomnie”

The French producer Toh Imago crafts a cerebral brand of techno that is anchored in reality by samples recorded in various steel sites in northern France and Luxembourg. At the border of mechanical dreams and dystopian club nights, “Insomnie” is a track that circulates from head to toe and feeds dj sets that thrive on light/dark contrasts.

24.09 – ESC-SUR-ALZETTE – Kulturfabrik (LU)
07.10 – PARIS – Gaîté Lyrique w/ Max Cooper
19.11 –  CREIL – La Grange à Musique w/ Nathan Fake et Flore (dj set)


More about Toh Imago


UTO live @ La Maroquinerie

Join us for UTO’s release party in Paris on November 28th at La Maroquinerie! → Tickets

Monday, November 28th 2022

La Maroquinerie
23 rue Boyer
75020 Paris
Metro : Gambetta, Pelleport ou Ménilmontant

Stream / Follow UTO

Seb Martel

Seb Martel: New album ‘Saturn 63’ out now

After many collaborations with artists such as Tony Allen, Femi Kuti, Manu Dibango or Christine Salem, the French guitarist releases a solo album recorded exclusively with the guitars from the collection of the Musée de la musique → Stream / Order Saturn 63

© Laura Cieplik / Design: Motoplastic

For those who haven’t heard the name Seb Martel, the guitarist appears on the credits of classic albums from Tony Allen, Femi Kuti, Manu Dibango and Blackalicious. Saturn 63, his new album on InFiné, is dedicated to the exploration of the electric guitar in all its nuances. This new opus, made from a selection of nine guitars from the Musée de la Musique (a branch of the Philharmonie de Paris) and enriched only by the voices of his close collaborators (Camille, Sabrina Bellaouel…), unfolds a musical fresco faithful to the historical and geographical heritage of his instrument throughout its fourteen tracks. The album includes fascinating reworks of Carl Perkins, Benjamin Britten, Chavela Vargas, and Vincent Segal in addition to Martel’s own compositions. However, adopting a dogmatic approach and dressing his compositions with sounds and effects collected during the recordings, Martel adds an abstract and experimental edge to Saturn 63, which transports the listener into an out-of-time experience.

This story is basic. So let’s examine the key elements : a museum, under the auspices of the Paris Philharmonie, full of musical instruments; in this case, a beautiful electric guitar. A label, a great label, full of great ideas, great artists, and a guitarist”, summarizes Sebastien Martel with humility.

Martel, an expert craftsman with the guitar in France, releases the second part of a collection centered on the instrument collection of the Musée de la Musique in Paris. The principle is simple: the erudite, multitalented musician has been given access to all the electric guitars in the annex of the Philharmonie de Paris. One of these guitars strewn throughout the shelves of the museum’s archives particularly caught his attention.

The last guitar that Alexandre, the curator, took out for me was the so-called Saturn 63, a German guitar. This lit Saturn transported me. It’s a guitar with a rather extravagant look and a depth of sound that’s quite incredible. It’s a very good travel companion,” commented Martel, revealing the origin of the title of the album.

From then on, the Saturn 63 is the perfect musical vessel for a 14-track odyssey loaded with nods to the history and geography of an instrument presented in all its nuances.

But be careful. I made this record in a very dogmatic way,” he adds.

The guitarist working the strings of a small dozen electric guitars will record a lot of musical material with his soundman. The concept of the album will quickly make itself felt :

I only use the guitars of the museum, the only instrument allowed, with the human voice being the only additive.

The grain of the textures, sometimes barely perceptible, and the effects of the pedals blur the stylistic and temporal borders of the album and give it the discreet silver linings of ambient and experimental music.

Reimagining a rock & roll standard like ‘Blue Suede Shoes,’, Seb Martel, raw and rebellious in his vocal tones, puts Carl Perkins back, here and now, right in his listener’s ear with close-to-the-microphone and string takes. The noisy distortions at the end of the track would be more reminiscent of Thurston Moore’s ecstatic style than the King’s slick playing.

On ‘Macorina‘, a love story between women and a tribute to the Mexican singer Chavela Vargas, it is a minimal and evasive folk, which comes to feed on the silences to better bring out the intensity of the singing of Martel’s brother Nicolas.

These voices, that of a circle of close friends (Camille, Vic Moan…) and some new acquaintances from the label (Sabrina Bellaouel, Cindy Pooch), come to humanize the spectrum of the emotions developed by the guitars. When it leans toward more pop compositions like the very successful ‘My Best Friend‘, guitars and voice communicate together on an aerial, cyclic, and evolving melody.

And if he invites “his two old buddies”, -M-, and Mathieu Boogaerts, two great voices of the French chanson à texte on ‘MattJam‘, it is to better conclude a long session of improvisation with a few ethereal minutes which finish celebrating the guitar as the most beautiful invitation to the escape. Saturn 63 crystallizes the know-how of an eclectic musician, at once an expert and a defender of the strict definitions of aesthetic canons, but also capable of transporting a collection of sublime melodies out of time and away from its ephemeral excitement.

16.09.22 – PARIS – Centquatre-Paris
14.10.22 – BERLIN – Michelberger
09.12.22 – RENNES – Trans Musicales (L’Etage)

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Vanessa Wagner live at Royal Albert Hall London

Vanessa Wagner will play at the London Royal Albert Hall on October 24th, 2022, as part of  the Steinway series – Royal Albert Hall’s 150th anniversary season → Tickets

Award-winning French pianist Vanessa Wagner has been described as “the most delightfully singular pianist of her generation” and “ the most singular, curious and captivating pianist in the landscape.” Experience her music live in this special intimate performance in the Royal Albert Hall’s Elgar Room, including pieces from from her three solo albums for record label InFiné which explore the minimalist repertoire – the critically-acclaimed Study of the Invisible, plus Inland and forthcoming album Mirrored.

Vanessa Wagner collects solo piano studies of graceful minimalism and rare finesse. Across her three solo albums she has introduced her audience to pieces, many rare or unpublished, by acclaimed composers, young pianists, and genre-bending personalities from the ambient and electronic scenes. A contemporary and timeless repertoire that can be described as “minimalist”, but which in reality covers a multitude of singular universes and often extraordinary musical personalities.

Her most recent album Study of the Invisible features interpretations of pieces by a spectrum of composers that includes Suzanne Ciani, Caroline Shaw, Brian Eno, Philip Glass, Harold Budd, David Lang, Bryce Dessner, Ezio Bosso, Moondog, Nico Muhly and Julia Wolfe.

Seb Martel

Seb Martel live at Michelberger Berlin


Seb Martel will play live at the Michelberger in Berlin, on October 14th  Book your ticket

If the name “Seb Martel” is still unknown to you, it appears on the credits of classic albums from Tony Allen, Femi Kuti, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Emily Loizeau, and Blackalicious. On October 14th, the French guitarist will perform a live set with a cast of collaborators in Berlin at the Michelberger Hotel
Saturn 63, his new album on InFiné is dedicated to the exploration of the electric guitar in all its nuances. This new opus made solely from a selection of 9 guitars from the Musée de la Musique (a branch of the Philharmonie de Paris) and the voices of his close collaborators, paints a musical fresco faithful to the historical and geographical heritage of his instrument. The album includes fascinating reworks of Carl Perkins, Benjamin Britten, Chavela Vargas, and Vincent Segal in addition to Martel’s own original compositions. Adopting a dogmatic approach and dressing his compositions with sounds and effects collected during the recordings, Martel adds an abstract and experimental edge to Saturn 63, which transports the listener into an out-of-time experience.
On stage, the journey of Saturn 63 leads to new encounters and improvisations. The field of musical genres has opened up even more, allowing the guitar to impose itself as a singular vehicle for experimentation. At the Michelberger Hotel, on October 14th, the guitarist invites Mexican producer Cubenx, keyboardist Hervé Salters (better known as General Elektriks) and Romain Constant, long-time musical adventure partner in electronic territories, to join him on stage in celebration of the release of Saturn 63.

Pre-order the EP

On Tour


gaspar claus

Gaspar Claus: New EP & video for “2359” with Denis Lavant

Gaspar Claus is back with a new EP and video for “2359”, starring film legend Denis Lavant, directed by Ilan Cohen Watch the video

French cellist and composer Gaspar Claus returns to InFiné after his mesmerizing Tancade album with a stunning new EP based on the album highlight “2359”. The synthetic, artificial, and uptempo cut from the record was an obvious standout, in it’s break from Claus’ more straight forward neo-classical cello pieces.In addition to the original album version, 2359 is met with a new “Night Blossom Version”, a techno reimagining of the track based on Claus’s live collaboration with Basile3. The EP is balanced by two new tracks : “Amour Constrictor”, a b-side from Tancade that Claus was particularly fond of, and “Recycled Future”, a commission from the website radiooooooo that imagines a world in the year 2070 where production relied entirely on recycling. The piece found him digging through an archive of memory cards of old loop pedals, each one filled with bits and pieces of live shows from years past. After assembling these memories together, Claus was left with an allegory for his dream of the future; an 8 minute, fully upcycled composition.

Video directed by Elan Cohen featuring Denis Lavant
Gaspar Claus’ moving clip for 2359 was directed by Ilan Cohen and stars French film legend Denis Lavant. In his own words, Gaspar says of the video:
” I was surprised when Ilan asked me to make a movie about the song “2359”. The album contains so many pieces of cinematic evidence, like “1999” or “a shore” that had not yet been put into images. […] Ilan saw in it an urgency, a mad rush. And he was right. There is a little secret behind the title of this piece, and often when I reveal it I see the surprise of the listeners who had not understood that “2359” evokes the minute before midnight. The last minute of the day that won’t be anymore. The one where you have to burn everything, every night, to start again, fresh, the next day. In Ilan’s proposal, this last minute is embodied by Denis Lavant, who runs towards his final plunge. Next to him, at the same time, but in a parallel dimension, runs the child he once was. And this child looks at him, almost watches him, maybe even judges, with tenderness, what his childhood dreams have become ” (Claus).As if to suggest the moment before death where one’s life flashes before their eyes, the film matches the pulsing, rhythmic pacing of the track with a beautiful portrayal of the end.

Stream / Buy the EP

16.09.22 – ORLÉANS – Festival Hop Pop Hop
13.10.22 – MASSY – Paul B.
19.01.23 – METZ – Les Trinitaires
28.01.23 –  POITIERS  – WEE Festival, le TAP
04.05.23 – DOMFRONT EN POIRAIE – Théâtre de la ville
10.05.23 – ROUEN – Chapelle Corneille
11.05.23 – FECAMP – Théâtre Le Passage  

Seb Martel

New video: Introducing Seb Martel’s “Saturn 63”

Introducing Seb Martel’s upcoming album “Saturn 63”,out September 16th on InFiné in collaboration with Philharmonie de Paris-Musée de la musique  Watch the video

Seb Martel talks about the genesis of the ambitious Saturn 63 project and invites us behind the scenes of the Musée de la musique and a recording session with Mathieu Boogaerts and Matthieu Chedid.

French guitarist Seb Martel has a broad knowledge of the nuances of his instruments. He accompanied in the studio or on stage many artists from various scenes: Chanson & French Pop (-M-,Camille ) jazz, world music (Femi Kuti, Christine Salem, Manu Dibango, Tony Allen) or hip-hop/electronic (Bumcello, Blackalicious, General Elektriks, Chocolate Genius …).

16.09.22 – PARIS – Centquatre – Paris w/ guests
08.10.22 – BARCELONA – Laut
14.10.22 – BERLIN – Michelberger


UTO’s debut album ‘Touch The Lock’ out now!

French duo UTO releases ‘Touch The lock’ on InFiné & Pain Surprises: a first album grounded in reality that communes with hyperreality, unlocking the box where hard-to-reach emotions and thoughts often lay dormant and untapped → Listen/Order

UTO are a duo from Paris who sound like they might be from outer space. Chic and alien, rhythm-centric yet diaphanous and ghostly, they are a group that thrive on contrasts and embrace paradoxes. Described variously as witchpop, dreampop and trip hop, they mine a rich seam of 90’s British music from the peripheries, with added je ne sais quoi. Debut album ‘Touch The Lock’ sees them present to the world their singular vision for the first time. It’s an album grounded in reality that communes with hyperreality, unlocking the box where hard-to-reach emotions and thoughts often lay dormant and untapped.

Emile and Neysa first met in Ivry-sur-Seine on the outskirts of Paris in 2013. Neysa was studying French literature at Paris 7, and Emile was playing in a band called Saint-Michel. Beginning together in 2016, the band released several tracks like ‘That Itch’; ‘The Beast’ and began to create a stir in the blogosphere. With the debut album they’ve taken their time, rewiring and reworking. UTO deconstruct their songs, which evolve through experimentation, embracing the imperfections and surrendering to the oblique strategies.

Having left Ivry behind two years ago for Augerville-la-Rivière, a tiny agricultural village about 30 km south west of Fontainebleau, they found more space in their lives and space in the music too. The
album channels the listlessness of the last few years, full of liminal audioscapes where sounds intermingle and sometimes repel each other, denoting convoluted thought processes which never quite resolve. This is not a record that tells stories or responds to a global narrative, they say, but more about feelings of disconnection, on songs like ‘Lock Myself’ and ‘Behind Windows’. Moreover,
Neysa flits capriciously between her two languages of French and English, again exhibiting an ambivalence and a sense of indecision. ‘Heavy Metal’ and ‘Délaisse’ invoke a heaviness, while tracks
like ‘Step in the Dark’ and ‘Souvent Parfois’ elicit a sense of wandering and yearning.

We had to open many doors in ourselves to make this record,” says Emile. “We never stuck to one method or style. We had to keep unlocking in order to reach our own holy of holies. This became a kind of freedom to never confine ourselves to choosing one direction. Neysa did tracks on her own for the first time, for instance. She felt she was ready to open that lock.” The duo talk of this place they discovered as a forbidden room where ghosts hide, with the ‘lock’ itself a reference to the doorknob in Alice in Wonderland.

The process of making the record began on a narrowboat in Oxford in the summer of 2019, when they moved in for three weeks with just a guitar, a keyboard, a computer and their voices. The pair
worked by day on the barge, starting out with snatches of lines or hooks, little acorns that would grow into mighty oaks. Opener ‘Délaisse’ typifies this way of working, building from a minimal,
ambient hum and unfolding into a wildly catchy left field pop song. It was a process they repeated each day, and by the time they returned to the UK, they had the beginnings of a record. Kim
Gordon’s ‘Sketch Artist’, a song they were listening to a lot at the time, with glitchy beats and skronking horns in opposition to tranquil, piano-enhanced soundscapes, had a profound influence
on the eventual record too.

Back in Augerville, the pair honed the album in their homemade studio, replete with analogue synthesizers, mellotrons, various drums, and recording equipment. This plethora of stolen sounds
adds to the album’s sense of invention and luminosity – rubbing together like tectonic plates with the earth moving as a result. Pulsing polyrhythms meet angelic, choral breakdowns, and in the case of full-frontal numbers like ‘This New Phase’, ‘Row Paddle’ and ‘Heavy Metal’, they often occur within the same song. Furthermore, everything is brought together with a deft in-house production nous, a stylish universe that belies the fact it was home-produced or that it’s a debut.

The structures of our songs are still a bit strange,” says Neysa. “They’re a bit like a washing machine programme; the music is starting, stopping, speeding up or slowing down, but then there are also pauses. We don’t know how a song will turn out until the programme stops”.

If the first part of the album is broadly tempestuous, side two is more subdued. Neysa lost a close family friend while the album was still being recorded, which brought a mournful and reflective element to Touch The Lock’s terrain. She writes about the purgatory of watching someone you love suffer on ‘This New Phase’: “I was at the hospital visiting my beloved godmother. She was very ill, in
between life and death, in this strange awkward place, in limbo. I felt pain like a furious hammering. Not soft nor lyrical. This is why I wanted a neutral voice too; neutrality seemed to me to be more
pounding. No frills, just a dark flamenco dance.

The record ends with hope, though, on ‘Full Presence’, breaking into a sonic crescendo at its conclusion. “I wanted to make the saxophone sound almost human and the song to stay very
stripped down right up until the second part, where the slow gospel intervenes,” says Emile. The liftoff that ensues is a welcome denouement to one of the best debut records you’ll hear all year.
UTO are what the French call an ovni, a word that means UFO, though it also signifies something ethereal or preternaturally touched. Touch the Lock will be touching down very soon.

30.09.22 – CAEN – Le Cargo
30.10.22 – STRASBOURG – La Laiterie
05.11.22 – MASSY – Les Primeurs de Massy (Paul B)
17.11.22 – NANTES – Le Stereolux (w/ Jacques)
18.11.22 – RENNES – L’Antipode
28.11.22 – BERLIN – Kantine am Berghain

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