"First I moved into another flat in Frankfurt and I had no studio for almost one year at this time. I tried to finish my studies. Then I moved to Hamburg. I had to buy new equipment, learn how to use it and so on. Everything took a little longer than I expected. I did a lot new tracks, but they were not really satisfying. I think I needed some time to experiment to find the right way." (Rajko Mueller / Isolée, my italics, talking earlier this year to blogger Joris Heernskerk.)
Here is what stuns me on first listen: This is a record so... so... the opposite of artless?... so masterful! There is a confident completeness, a wholeness of attitude: It is comfortable to both languish ("Today") or to surf ("Schrappnell"), or to set out in search of crazier pavements, driven toward the night's darker recesses ("My Hi Matic"/ "Face B," whose pulse and paw is a definite late highlight). It is easy to cry and craw about an album's effortlessness, its guile and wile, but it's difficult to place it, in either listening or writing.
There is a there feeling with most of the tracks here. By which I mean, there in the first instance because, yeah, they can be heard and followed, of course; and in the second, they can be written about and understood; while in the third, they can be taken apart, remixed and rejigged. This is true of all songs. But, here, at each moment in each song, there is the feeling that with each pressing bar you could be transported to the exact co-ordinates of one of the world's few perfections: when "Schrapnell" swoops low a minute-and-a-touch in and the strings shudder its electric guitar into action, it feels like synchronicity each time. (Maybe you'll remember Charles Lamb's incredulity at the suggestion that any word could have been changed in Milton's Lycidas.) This is a trick of light and sound, I know, but I am tricked nonetheless.
And if there is a wider significance at work in these vinyl runnels, it is this:
that by placing the not-connected and the connected, the faint outline of doubt
and the world's few certainties, the silhouette of synth and the solidity in
bass, 4/4 stomp coupled with hazy phasy floatyness, the swamp with wood-panel
flooring, the sidewalk and the pitchfork by placing these elements together
with all their
in-betweens and out-betweens implied or affected, connections are achieved in
spite of there being no connections nor connective forces at all (so the
title isn't just a cute wordplay). There is little energy expended on
narrative here; the engine doesn't drive the music forward but outward, like
the stuttered first syllable of the nervous. There is little or no forward propulsion,
or forward proposition; here, in adequate view for all those who deign to look,
is the aimless list of the perfectly able.
So if Paul Muldoon can drag from death old poems out into the life of new books
by etching momentum, agenda, and cause in their old rhyme new sense hidden
in quarter-century-old sound, stoor and recognition clogging our unhindered view,
trimmed in the odor of red wine and air miles then Isolée (who
doesn't have a project, or, rather, doesn't have one which I can discern at this
point in time from this critic's remove)... then Isolée's music… Well,
if we are to accept that 1. Paul Muldoon's deep subject is the inter-connectedness
of all, the brush of each thing agin each other thing in the wile of time and
space, and that 2. A badly-drawn Superman-type comic can debunk the whole of
received Techno (substitute you your own ideology, you your own bulwark),
then we can perhaps accept that Isolée the balding God of techno Rajko
Mueller "Ja! Beautiful word beach!" has eyes that can see souls
and a heart that doesn't know what a soul is... and that with this, his non vs.
non-non flux-record, he has the cake eat itself and we're ALL, every one of us,
"BEAUTIFUL WORD BEACH!" So now here I am, spelunking my way through Sunday evening at the Sub Club for heathens like me, this is the week's reset button: Optimo. My friend Colin emerges in the crowd, the bearded Queen of the Damned. In a clearing, the midnight strobe-light illuminates his fancy dancing and he looks very, very happy, if a little drunk. "BEAUTIFUL WORD BEACH!" ... And so it starts: the sinewy flesh an' flash of self-doubt and hesitant party-cheer in the first spacy bars of Isolée's "Beau Mot Plage," rising from the floor, in spite of itself and everyone around it. On record it goes just like this: We hear the charming soliloquy of a Latina witch with hearts for eyes and dance for a mouth. Live, it sounds like a beast has woken below us: The floor begins to boil, the heat from our feet's smiles an excess too much... Isolée, the Expert, locked on, divines the currents of this geyser. The faraway becomes now and now melts unto air, ability recedes to its rightful place of inconsequence as mobility takes hold; the room is lost now, to everything but Isolée and his demon feel. I find my friend Colin again in the crowd: "I've just been talking to that Isolée. 'Beau Mot Plage' means, literally, 'beautiful word beach'! Apparently, when he was growing up in Nigeria there was a beach nearby his house called 'beau mot plage.' The song is named for that beach... He's a nice guy, actually; a really nice guy..." And so it is as it must be: Isolée, a nice guy. A really nice guy.
OK, now let me stake my claim, then I'll grab my clams and leave. Sui generis, no it's not its embroidered 4/4 backbone belies the infinite grace of the record's more intricate tendrils but it is this: Record of the year. No doubt and end-of. And should you ever be charged with the task of dining on the scabbed-up insides of a putrid horse by way of paying yourself into "I've heard Wearemonster and yes it rocks!" club... well… heed this, my call, and do it now…