This Is A Quarantine
Black Strobe Records
TBR: 8th May
French electronic music creator Arnaud Rebotini is making use of his time in quarantine by putting together a new single every week. A full-time occupation making music surely is one of the best ways to pass the weary hours waiting for the end to arrive. Demonstrating skills from each corner of the talent certificate and including remixes from friends and colleagues along the way, this set of eight is a moment in history. It's been a good two months in self-isolation, tackling the boredom is never an easy task. Here's something to sink your ears into and explore with your mind wide open.
Chapter one is called Minimise Contact Between People. It grabs us with a robotic vocal that's quickly joined by a tappety beat. Rim hits and shake-snare rattle on pivoting angles while odd synth bends throw high-end notes into the playing field. Bass rumbles and growls in electronic stabs as interesting elements of uneasiness and cosmopolitanism waver in clouds of kinesis and charm. The progress brings in various shades of the repertoire with additions of amplitude, effect, and direction of flow. Occasionally new sounds are injected which compliment the whole in subtle new ways.
Next, a sudden influx of wobbly bass hits us as a another robotic voice creates inflections of sound. A melodic and jazz inspired composition unwinds into vocals that half sing over rumbling beats. Shimmering chord synths decorate with luminous backdrops of tone what dance and flutter like wall-hangings in the breeze. Staggered notes flow in alongside zaps and more vocals to bring on an exciting and dreamy sensation. Digital Lockdown seems to have relaxed a little since the first track, and lets loose on some wild keyboarding.
This is followed by a couple of great remixes of the first track, Minimise Contact Between People. Alessandro Adriani offers a Nightmare City version followed by a Pablo Bozzi rendition that takes yet another perspective.
Track three is inspired by the lambda commentators who have strong and unfaultering opinions on subjects best left to professionals. With a scattering of maniac beats and vocal inflections, the music begins on a snappy snare and wobbling bass. Synth stabs induce an atmosphere of chaotic alertness as poetic lines holler and muse in self-talk style motions. Blipping beats and upbeat synth additions find neat homes. Spirals of tone bending sound then begin to swirl and hypnotise within scopes of pulsing rhythm. Chloroquine is about scientists experimenting to the sound of the misinformed and paranoid.
The music is provided alongside remixes of Digital Lockdown. These are provided by Phase Fatale, Lokier, and Christian Zanesi.
An online collaboration between Arnaud Rebotini and fellow countryman Jonathan Fitoussi brought the fourth original into being. It begins with cosmic waves of openness and melody. Twinkling keyboards splash various tones and magical flavour into the mixing pot. Then, a chunky cyber-bass throws down a steady marching pace. The synth layers continue to fill the spaces and illuminate the musical passages with effervescent colourations. Etat Naturel feels like a stroll through imaginary jungle forest as glades beckon from behind layers of unique flowering plants and fruiting trees.
The remix offerings of Chloroquine are crafted by none other than VTSS, Fabrizio Rat, and Raffaele Attanasio with his Southern Riot version.
With a passion for the ingenious methods people all over the world have used to create effective masks, this next track is called Masquerade. Of course, if you work in hospital or somewhere like that you'll need the proper thing but for the rest of us, instead of using up national resources, we can adapt. The track using vocals and slow moving synths to give a laid-back and house style mix. Electro drums bounce in an 80s way while expressions of voice dance with various colours of synthesiser.
This release contains four remixes. The first of which is The Hacker's version of track one, Minimise Contact Between People. This snugly fits the rhetoric of this fifth edition. The other three remixes are of Etat Naturel and are kindly provided by Leonie Pernet, Etienne Jaumet, and Turzi with the Illegal Jogging version. A term we'd not have expected until now.
The format of this series was originally billed as five tracks plus remixes, however it became apparent that week six would be just the same as before. So the music continued in the brave and quite frankly (no pun intended) enjoyable for us listeners way it ought to. This time the inspiration is in the daily exercise routines people are adopting. One way to pass the time and keep the spirits up is to actively seek a healthy body. Dancing to great music of course is a sure way of achieving this. Workout starts with a subtle pulsing that's joined by a deep bass. Motivational lyrics about moving the body are laid down as a throbbing bass begins kicking the drum in a river of sweaty tempo. The pulsing sound maintains a regularity and relaxation through the otherwise hectic and full-one mix. Synths gallop around repeating lines as the progression leaps over hurdles into cosmic elevations.
The Masquerade is remixed three times for this release, expect versions from Cardopusher, Zanias, and Zombies In Miami.
Those who know me personally know that I usually cut my own hair with varying degrees of success. However, most of us are obliged to visit the hairdresser at least once or twice a year. This next track is intended to highlight the universal desire to look your best and the fact that our services are on hold. Clean and Neat begins with the sound of a hair-clippers buzzing. This is joined by frantic electronic drums which chatter and tap with a fiery beat. Deep and squidgy bass gives a depth to the track as distorted and distant vocals whisper in strange verses. Odd oscillator sounds pluck and wobble in arpeggio style motions. Otherworldly tones are added too, lending a sense of strangeness.
The remix editions this time are in two parts. Masquerade is given a fresh face by Kittin while Workout gets a dress change into something more comfortable from Shun and Radical G.
To finish this series, in the final week of strict lockdown for the French nation, Arnaud Rebotini presents an homage to the people on the front-line who have been providing essential services for everyone during this pandemic. Courage to go to work in the frightening reality of a indiscriminating virus takes exception beyond exception, whether it's in the medical places, the factories, or the food shops. The servants are the new aristocracy. To (Wo)Men On The Assembly Line begins with an exciting sonic stab that brings out a thriving digital bass and drum. Amplitude and elevation gives rise to a frantic rhythm that encapsulates the desire to get out and party without restrictions. Your day will come, my friend! Electronic beats rumble and scatter as head-shaking motifs wander and warble on various adjustable plinths of sound.
This final number is accompanied by the most generous dose of remixes of them all. Workout is revamped by Perel and Max Durante while Chloroquine is reinvented by Jensen Interceptor and Kris Baha in collaboration. Clean and Neat is tidied up and restyled by Djedjotronic and David Carretta.
This huge project symbolises a moment in time that we will no-doubt be talking about long since it's over. The history books will remember the narrative of politics and science in equal amounts so it's up to the artists to explain how it felt to be someone here and now. This excellent contribution of music deserves to remain a significant resonator for many years.
Rowan Blair Colver for The Electro Review.