Rémy Charrier






Audiovisual artist Rémy Charrier has found his way to Mexico City, and this can only mean one thing: finding a home at the local lavabo of exciting electronic Ambient/Glitch fusillades Umor Rex Records. Charrier’s first solo work Cowries, released in September 2015, can be purchased (both as a tape and digitally) and streamed at Bandcamp and finds a more than fitting home there, even though it is so unlike the tropical zone and megacity it is situated in that it feels like a whole planet in itself. And that’s the catchphrase of the day: a planet in itself. A cowrie is a mollusk found at sea with a glossy shell and brightly patterned. You wouldn’t know the about the chromogenic allure though when you take a look at Daniel Castrejón’s front artwork and absorb the eight tracks that found their way into the shell as envisioned by Rémy Charrier: the aural mollusk turns out to be an industrial site, with a constant diffeomorphism between seemingly organic incidents and artificial turnabouts. Ambient at its core, glitchy in its interstices, with Rave tonalities, Hip-Hop helixes and Breakbeat cannelures to drive the epigenetic intrinsics, Cowries is a fascinatingly aliphatic set of destinations. It is also somewhat of a ploy and setup, which is quite the insulting remark to make. But don’t worry, I’ll entangle this potential audacity over the course of this review, so let’s squish and squeeze into Cowries; after all, there are plenty of them.


The world's most rectangular ultramarine mollusk: the Cowries tape. Designed by Daniel Castrejón.

With the opener A Sine Tale, Rémy Charrier creates an immediate simile both to the track and the album title: semi-vitreous and pseudo-calcareous clicks become united with a lo-freq sine wave that rises sky-high before falling down again, now ameliorated by an enigmatic melody of biomorphic helictites and cave pearls. The laid-back tribal breakbeat aurorae notwithstanding: the Ambient factor rises. The adjacent 1929 meanwhile finds Charrier entrapped in an ogival punctilio of hammering organ stabs, their granularity functioning as a surfactant by taking all the viscosity out of the surrounding drums and clarinet-like adjuvants. As the beat kaleidoscope increases in size, so does the pressure of this methacrylic syncytium… until chime chimeras bring a tawny light into the rubicund ribcage. The cheekily titled Tulipmania then serves as a torch of chirality by superimposing its midnight bells and whistles with the timbre of 91/92 Rave rhizomes agglutinated to a galloping beat spectacle. Afterglows illumine the silence but cannot caulk the monoclinic darkness. How fitting the following Shadows is, a tune which draws from the Eurodance and Glitch sentiment in regard to its nocturnal organ lozenges and retinue of desiccated clicks. Diaphanous but mis-chromosomed whistles make a voodoo torch out of a luminescent night, no matter their helicoidal arabesques.

The second half of the album kicks off with The Ubiquitous Cowrie, an artifact whose complexion has been there all along but is now superimposed and amplified in an arrangement that comes quite close to the Ambient factor: droning Dub chloroderivatives waft around a sarcoplasmic but dying battery of silvery/argentine hydromagnesite all the while the swirling constituents of the tantamount magnetotails embody the circular pattern of the almighty cowrie. In close proximity resides Backlash, an honest-to-goodness Hip-Hop exocarp made of incisive phytoliths, stringed shadows, sine sinews, sawtooth saprotrophs and other faux-organic matter that is drowning in an acidophilic liquid of molybdenized supremacy. In the aftermath, Between Stories tones down the crestfallen orogeny and ventures into the ultramafic soils of the cave yet again, enchanting – if you may call it that – with umbrageous stokehold drones, mephitic machinery and metallic protrusions which eventually become an uneasily shuffling beat that mimics a slow train on its way to the dungeon of doom. When a layer of zoetropic yttrium glitters, a sort of triumph manifests itself… but it is crushed in the fittingly titled finale Denial which actually shares the textures and tonality with the prior track but places them in an earthier perapsis that is cautiously trained to allow proselytizing but eldritch wisps to flow weightlessly above the arid polymers.

Rémy Charrier has deceived me with this ploy of an industrial album. The deception doesn’t necessarily contain the fact that Cowries is put into the Ambient section, for there are many shared approximations and similitudes of the wide genre to be found in the sound-based mollusk. No, the trick Charrier uses has to do with the album title which turns out to be a clever obliquity when it is compared to the eight soundscapes: neither making a point directly nor indirectly, one is advised to actively find the organic particles and isotopic ingredients in this work because the title is about a living – or previously living – entity, suggesting a micrometry as its focal point, venturing ever-deeper into the turbulently intertwined canals and paragons as depicted on the shell. What’s beneath the shell, however, is not based on organic matter, no, it’s the barycenter of metalization, or to be more precise: lanthanoid fractals which are bendable, soluble in water, losing and loosening their atomic superstructure. It is this chemical state – as transferred via music – that bewilders the traveling subject in a good way, as Cowries is most certainly not about that kind of medulla-emptying, bone-grinding shoegazing majesty; it is much more subtle, sometimes even smoothed and polished. Whatever it is, it never overstays its welcome and is therefore naturally dressed to size: after all, a marine mollusk had to fit into that shell. We’re talking about biotic matter again – and have come full circle.

Further listening and reading:
  • You can purchase and stream Cowries at Bandcamp.
  • The label on Twitter: @UmorRex


Ambient Review 448: Remy Charrier – Cowries (2015). Originally published on Aug. 26, 2015 at AmbientExotica.com.