Marsen Jules: At GRM (Oktaf)
The first time I heard Marsen Jules’ music, it was back in 2006 when the Germany IDM label City Centre Offices released his 3rd album, Les Fleurs. Jules’ music falls within the newer school of airy, dreamy ambience that I tend to associate with Kompakt’s Pop Ambient series. Gaseous clouds of pads, reverb, and light atmosphere that diffuse light rather than suppress it, sometimes melancholy but rarely what I’d describe as dark in nature. After the release of his album Beautyfear, Jules returns to his own Oktaf label for this 2-track session at the legendary Group de Recherches Musicales Studios at Radio France in Paris, originally founded in 1958 by avant garde composer Pierre Schaeffer. These two tracks are by far the best thing I’ve heard from Jules, distilling his airy ambience into something deep, glacial, and sublime.
Each half undulates like the subtly shifting shapes of windy desert dunes, sometimes changing shape so subtly that listeners might not even notice at times. But Jules’ love of pastoral beauty comes through loud and clear here, unadorned and freed of constraints; rather than be tied to the shimmering, light reflection of some of his previous works, instead here he’s free to completely submerse in this thick fog of swelling strings and reverberation. Haunting in its elegance and simplicity, easily a contender for my favorite ambient release of the year.