A must listen from one of the most fascinating singer-songwriters in the French scene right now – but expect Japanese and Korean moments as well.
After a beautiful EP “Dancing Shadows” in 2016, which had made its way to our favourite French albums list, Eskimo’s first album was highly anticipated. For our greatest pleasure, the wait is now over, as “Que faire de son coeur ?” was revealed at the end of March.
While constructed around folk instrumentations, Marie’s first songs were heavily influenced by post-rock and noisy experimentalists, such as Silver Mt. Zion and Sonic Youth. Singles like “Lame Girl” and “Run Mind” were some examples of this mix of sounds that had really impressed us on “Dancing Shadows”. What is even more impressive, is that even if “Que Faire de son Coeur ?” explores new territories – and languages, like the single “Hana” sung in Japanese – it’s an improvement on every level.
The change can be heard since the first track, “Calvaire”, which is sung in French, like most of her new tracks. We can recognize Eskimo’s mastery for “sounding” silences but, here, the stunning production makes it even more powerful. The charming lo-fi aspect of her EP is replaced with deep instrumentations, as evidenced in the subtle drum patterns and faraway saxophone sounds, which can recall the stylish music of Destroyer – and this is a huge compliment.
This accomplished new direction only amplifies the dynamism produced by Marie’s melodic repetitions and meditative breaks. In a lot of songs, some parts seem strangely disparate until something – in “Calvaire”, this something is the sublime repetition “Les îlots de lumière. Les îlots de bonheur” – suddenly makes everything click into our brain.
The next songs, as the obvious standout “Sirène”, precise a bit more Eskimo’s new aesthetics, deployed on the album. The metallic and abrasive guitars, typical of her first songs, are mixed with groovy basslines, free experimentations and nonchalant singing (“Apiar”…) which put her in line with the great and flourishing psych-jazz-oriented French chanson – for example Calypso Valois, Aquaserge or Halo Maud, for whom Marie has precisely been a chorister.
The artist manages to make cohabit these dreamy atmospheres with her more dissonant and dark inclinations, which she was already known for (the new version of “Fragment Wall”, the “gloomy night” related in the oppressive “Elan”…) giving to the scene a new exciting vision.
Indeed, if some artists acting in this sphere can sometimes sound a bit distant, due to their (voluntary) languid singing and attitude, Marie makes it her own by performing her music on a more “gut” feeling, like in the amazing transition of “À la recherche du soleil”, which unexpectedly switch between a mischevious 70’s poppy part and a luminous, soaring melody.
A habit to make everything sound more sensitive that can be linked to her remaining Scandinavian post-rock and Asian ambient-like reflexes, as reflected in the powerful highlight “Lecavalier”, sung in Korean.
An album with so much depth couldn’t finish on something other than the inspiring minimalism of “Domi”, an humble and pure piano ballad with just enough sounds to be remembered long after the final note. We had missed Eskimo’s music during these long four years but seeing her making such a significant return proves it was definitely worth the wait. A must listen.
Photo: Indira Dominici