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Nicolas Bernier: The Dancing Deer EP (Home Normal)

This EP from French experimental producer Bernier focuses on an unusual combination of sounds and styles. Spoken prose, ambient sound, IDM and field recordings. The extra-long title track (clocking in just over 18 minutes) comes across more like a suite than a single piece, alternating between stark whispered passages, textural ambience, layered electronic post-rock (reminiscent a bit of an instrumental Múm). It’s a curious combination of sounds, unusual in its vague sprawl. It’s patient in how it unfolds, but restless as it wanders far off course from one movement to the next. The track turns into a crescendo of noise and crowd recordings, before breaking down completely. It sounds as though the piece is over, but there are several more minutes remaining, in which Bernier combines everything that’s preceded — whispered vocals, field recordings, twee melody and hazy noise. It works better than it sounds and is strangely compelling by the time it’s all over. This is proceeded by the shorter “The Dead Deer,” drawing from the same bag of tricks but with a narrower spectrum of sound. Deep sine bass carries the track, layered then with concrete sounds and field recordings, allowing this one to reside more squarely in the ambient drone category. It’s a nice breath of calm after the somehow unsettling longer main event that precedes it. Bernier opted to include an odd “Short Edit” of the title cut as an addendum to the first two tracks. It’s only two and a half minutes long and seems to be a somewhat arbitrary sliver of the track, never even really getting to the melodic bits of the original that make it so accessible — this edit is instead just a crescendo from a whisper to the cacophonous apex that falls in the center of the original edit. I’m not really sure where to put Bernier in the musical spectrum genrewise, but there’s something sweet about this weird EP that keeps me coming back for more.

Listen to a sample at Home Normal

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