S8JFOU - OP·ECHO
Self-taught pianist, trumpeter and electronic music producer S8jfou presents his new album Op·Echo. Coming out of his self-built house/cabin/studio, this new album is very specific, made using only two quite under-rated Ableton tool called Operator and Echo - hence the name.
From the necessity to learn, S8jfou (pronounced “suis-je fou” that can be translated in English by Am8mad “Am I mad”) makes his own synthesizers, inside the cabin he built, inside a forest, inside the mountains where he lives as a hermit, alone, in order to better produce.
Preconceived ideas about electronic music die hard. One of them is the belief that the mastery of analog instruments would be more noble than that of software’s. S8jfou knows that this is false, as for him a computer is well worth a modular synthesizer provided you know how to fully exploit it and immerse yourself in it headlong. On his new album Op·Echo, the producer has only worked with two digital tools available on Ableton : the synthesizer Operator and the delay effect Echo. Nothing else. The intent wasn’t to impose constraints or limit himself, but rather to experiment and demonstrate that the character of a sound can be made from scratch and offer a deeper music and vector of emotions.
S8jfou thought of that idea while composing his previous album, Cynism. The track 'Analog Things', from that album, was composed using this principle. "But this time, it’s completely intentional, admits the musician. It is a concept that requires a lot of time and research. Every single sound or frequency comes from this precise research. By doing this, I feel like I’m in control of everything, that I’m like a scientist."
However, Op·Echo isn’t a cerebral album. It is carved in warmth and variations, guided by frantic rhythms and nestled in the softness of synth layers. S8jfou has certainly always loved machines, to the point of building his own synthesizers used in his discography, but also live. But one doesn’t preclude the other, and this experience, this thirst for experimentation enables him today to take even further his quest for precision and mastery of computer assisted music.
The producer thrives on his UK electronic influences to compose broken and repetitive rhythms, but without redundancy. A basis on which he then adds several harmonic, dissonant and distorted layers, like a soloist who would express himself on moving foundations. This is particularly the case on the opening track of the album, Soft, where the typical beats from Britain are distorted and twisted to then let the notes express themselves. On 'Influences', S8jfou draws upon a melody or a theme declined in variations and atmospheres.
"I almost no longer compose a track with an identical movement over more than 4 beats. This is because I like to make my songs as lively as possible, in the sense that the tracks can self-modulate, or even modulate each other. That way, the basis of the track varies and the rendering isn’t too binary or repetitive. Finally, all the elements of the same piece can be seen as distinct but interdependent soloists."
Op·Echo is an album made of movements and breaths, just like the superb 'Character', praise of slowness and contemplation, where the drums are silenced. In the middle of the effervescence, the impact of the ambient on his music is felt, nourished by the lifestyle of his author who composed this album in Brittany, isolated. “I felt I was exactly where I needed to be. This has greatly affected my music.”
But when you contemplate the world, you also see how violent it is. So S8jfou sometimes gets more industrial and radical. The drums on 'Phase' seem epileptic and multiple atmospheres follow one another without ever going back. It’s important to express the complexity of things, not to limit yourself to simple structures.
Symbol of this approach and of the intensity that haunts Op·Echo, the track 'Waves' is a highlight of a track list that opens doors without closing them and transports the listener into a unique soundscape. So even though S8jfou has worked following his concept of limiting the tools at his disposal, it is above all to give shape to wild and crazy sensations and ideas. Isn’t that, by the way, the very essence of music?
Op·Echo is out September 21st on Parapente
(Image Credits: Facebook / S8jfou, Romulo)