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Francis Plagne
Idle Bones

With strange shades of "High Fidelity," 30-something record-store-owner/obsessive pop-cultural dork — here, Synaesthesia boss Mark Harwood — finds that the teenager under his feet is actually an unlikely musical marvel. But rather than a pair of kleptomaniac skaters, his prodigy, and proverbial pot-of-gold, is the 17-year-old kid, well studied in John Cage and Luc Ferrari, who's helping out in the store. With a feelgood bent that could make a John-Cusack-Disney-movie translation, the super-cynical perpetual critic returns his newfound treasure out to the world, and turns his label — which'd previously only issued the most minimal of drones and tones — into something approximating a pop imprint. And the now-18-year-old Francis Plagne (that's "Plahn," ja) makes something approximating pop music, glimpses of major keys and fragments of melody — guitar, piano, tuned percussion — obscured through a compositional lens coated with condensation, half-witnessed as they poke their heads up through the watery fog of willful experimentalism, Plagne's reticent strum-and-sing numbers seemingly trying their best not to drown in a swallowing sea of monkeying frolickry and feedbackery. Said sung murmurings tend to be all a-breath with an airy air, gasping sentimentally, whilst beneath this faux-composed surface, Plagne's lithe legs churn water-treading rhythms.

In fashioning these songs on his lonesome, most likely locked up in some teenaged bedroom, lil' Franky's found himself going further adrift than the famous faces he'd beg to be compared to. Whilst Idle Bones occasionally, even deliberately, evokes the campfire jamborees of the increasingly popular Animal Collective, Phil Elverum's concept-driven indie-rock rock opera Mount Eerie, or the lurid pop-psych pastiches of the Olivia Tremor Control, for the most part the disc plays its own part, staging its own fun-and-games of love-and-adventure, Plagne plowing out into the rips and reefs of these audiophonic high seas, coming with all the fearlessness of idle, idealist youth, and none of the knowing caution of the saltiest sea-dog. In such, Idle Bones' high-point hits and its many misses both feel like unforeseen collisions; the whole seems, somehow, entirely accidental, Plagne perhaps a happy student of Herbert's prescribed credo of Magic & Accident. In such, this Master's Apprentice has cast quite the spell.

by Anthony Carew

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