Chloé: The Waiting Room
A chilly, ominous thing of genre- boundary teases and tears, Parisian producer/DJ Chloé Thevenin's debut full-length is a long time coming after five odd years of releasing minimal and minimalish singles on style standard-bearers (Bpitch Control, notably). Whether it's worth the wait depends on what you were waiting for: The Waiting Room is defiantly beyond categorization.
Minimal is the heart of the record, but the usual pops, clicks, and kicks are in short supply. And, however much she cuts her voice up (a great deal, actually), Thevenin doesn't subject it to the inescapable ruffied vocal haze that's gone from minimal hallmark to minimal cliché. It's a record of sounds; not ostentatious sampling, but she's painted her songs with great gobs of flesh and blood--church bells, bird chirps, synth strings, the drumstick kind of drums. The fours of "Be Kind to Me" come via soft pulses--like she's thumbing a bass guitar--rather than kicks or computer pops, until about two-thirds of the way through where they come into sharp focus like fog-muffled dawn turning to daylight; in the background you hear what sounds like approaching/receding heels clicking on tile. Even "Suspended," stripped to the microbone, is punctuated with rattles and underpinned with what sounds like a cocktail party of gale-force winds.
Some of the finest moments come in the disc's folkish would-be interlopers. Even these feel techno at heart: patterned and programmed--literally, and in spirit--never wandering or terribly melodic. One of the best tracks of this winter, "Around the Clock"--an altogether sinister folky take on basement lounge/jazz--is like if Picastro recast half its melancholy as quiet anger; some six minutes of Thevenin whisper-hissing "aroooouuuund the clock/ tick tock" over a two-note groove. That it works--that it isn't an interloper--puts us at awe, and makes us wonder if we didn't just hear evolution happen.