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Artist: Encre

Album: Encre

Label: Clapping Music

Review date: Jul. 1, 2003

Mystic Scripture

Encre is a peculiar project spearheaded by Frenchman Yann Tambour. Nearly two years after its initial release in his home country, Encreís self-titled debut is only now garnering attention in North America. Itís surprising this album of unique electro-rock minimalism didnít surface earlier. But without a major push from record labels, and biographical material being rare-to-none, this is certainly a unique gem that has emerged over time.

Literally translating into the French word for ďink,Ē Encre has developed a signature as both an ensemble and solo project. While incorporating a cast of electronic artists in a live setting, including My Jazzy Child on bass and King Q4 on drums, Tambour chooses to compose and record alone.

The album doesnít contain any credits, making it difficult to credit the jazzy drum grooves or rich-sounding string performance. Itís a mystery as to whether fully credit Tambour, or praise Encreís live players like King Q4 and a cellist known only as Sonia.

While the arrangements have largely been filtered through his computer, Tambour displays fine craftsmanship after slicing and reconstructing organic cello, percussion and guitar parts into several loops. Fusing glitch elements with the samples allow the album to develop an electronic edge while also breathing a natural element across the eight tracks.

But itís Tambourís vocal contribution that accentuates the albumís eerily laid-back calmness. It makes no difference that all of the lyrics are in French, either. To anyone unfamiliar with French, he could simply be singing about rabbits and carrots, but itís his delivery that evokes trouble and depression. Citing Will Oldham and Nick Drake as influences, Tambour speaks slightly louder than a hush and in a tone that grazes like sandpaper across the minor-sounding scenery.

The only downside to the album is its length; the therapeutic session of melancholy flows just slightly over 30 minutes, leaving listeners scrounging for another fix of this quick-drying ink.

By Darren Eke

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