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Marsen Jules - Golden

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Artist: Marsen Jules

Album: Golden

Label: Genesungswerk

Review date: Aug. 9, 2007

Marsen Jules (a.k.a. Martin Juhls, a.k.a. Krill Minima, a.k.a. Falter) plays guitar, piano and electronics. Refreshingly, the emphasis remains firmly on the instruments, with the electronics playing an important, but subsidiary, role. The sound on Golden has a rich lustrous quality; the emphasis is on capturing as much of the instruments as possible, the sound of the acoustic guitar being particularly fine.

On the opener, “Birkengeflüster,” guitars are overlaid, producing a lush backdrop for the occasional snatch of melody before it’s subsumed again into the whole. The overall effect is similar to a drone, albeit a very comforting, intimate one. If one were to look for precedents, then ambient is an obvious influence; however, the music is just too demanding of one’s attention to comfortably fit the description. For instance, on “Wahrend,” high-frequency glitches and bass thumps offset the pretty pretty guitar and keyboard figures, creating the most powerful and dramatic music on Golden. Each of the album’s seven pieces creates a strong mood and then sustains it, with few variations and no surprises. The title track is based around a deliberate, repeated four-note acoustic guitar phrase that ought to become tiresome but becomes mesmeric, augmented with just enough electronics to keep it fresh

Occasionally, the electronics do overstep the mark, stop acting as punctuation and shading, and become intrusive. On “An Einem Wintermorgen,” there’s a persistent high-pitched electronic phrase that sounds like an irritating ring tone; skip that track and focus on the rest of Golden, especially its beguiling, beautifully unpredictable piano chords.

Jules has found interesting territory to explore, near the triple intersection of ambient, electronic and pop. The cumulative effect here is greater than that of any one track. By the end, Jules’s landscape feels welcoming and distinctive.

By John Eyles

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