Secret Music

Most of the music I enjoy on a weekly basis I share on my Brett’s Sound Picks Spotify playlist. Since this music is new, only time will tell how it ages and whether it will be interesting to listen to a few years or more down the line. But once in a while a recording comes along that has proved its Lindy status—a music that defies its age, a music that still sounds good to me years after I first heard it, a music so in its own world and doing its own enchanting thing by its own idiosyncratic means that it sounds like a secret only you can hear.

Julien Neto’s 2005 recording Le Fumeur de Ciel (Touch Records) is an example of this. Neto is a moniker and his/her real identity is unknown—though I’ve heard that he/she might be a Paris-based musician. Le Fumeur can loosely be described as ambient downtempo electronic music, made up of long ethereal pads, bits of glitchy percussion, shards of vocal and instrument samples, and deep sub bass. In a way, the music is all atmosphere.

Of the many qualities I like about this recording, what is most striking is its overall intentionality which Neto achieves through quite minimal means. There’s never more than a few sounds happening at once, each sound is meticulously placed, voiced, and varied, and the tracks unfold precisely, yet as if in a dream. The chord progressions, the slow shifts of timbre, and the striking way each moment grows out of what preceded it makes the music feel like a ravenous vine ascending the building that is our attention.

Here is Track 6, “Voy”:

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