Julien Neto

Le Fumeur de Ciel

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Julien Neto's full-length debut is a dreamy ambient electronica journey. The title, which translates to "The Sky Smoker," reflects the mood of the whole album. Sonic volutes spiral up gently; the clicks + cuts providing the occasional rhythm track are the footsteps of the nightwalker, whose reveries join the strands of keyboard fog. The whole thing has a charming retro-naïve atmosphere. One hears the melancholia soaking Sylvain Chauveau's releases (minus the acoustic instruments), Taylor Deupree's quiet peacefulness, and the influence of Fennesz in some textures and treatments, plus a certain Eno-esque quality that keeps things in tonal territory. The album is designed as a single work and holds up very well in that regard. It has a comfortable flow, without a single track jutting out, which produces a rather uneventful listen -- suitable for meditation or absent-minded daydreaming, but of lesser appeal for an attentive listen. The tracks "IV (Keats)" and "III" are particularly strong, breathing in lifelike fashion, projecting strong images in the listener's mind. The other pieces are less striking -- done with a commendable level of artistry, but lacking in personality. As a result, Le Fumeur de Ciel offers an enjoyable listen, but does not have the uniqueness that would allow it to stand out from the hordes of similarly soft-spoken electronica albums.

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