Etienne Jaumet

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While it’s been five years since we last heard from Etienne Jaumet, one half of French electro-wizards Zombie Zombie, he’s certainly been keeping himself busy in between his previous release Night Music and this most recent one, La Visite. Not only has he partaken in numerous collaborations with the likes of Joakim, Richard Pinhas, Francois & The Atlas Mountain and picked up various DJ slots, he has also recorded a new Zombie Zombie album Rituels d’un Nouveau Monde as well as the their soundtrack album Loubia Hamra. He worked with artist Felicie D’Estienne D’orves on the installation Satori and, finally, at this very moment Jaumet and his saxophone are still part of the James Holden tour (of which he also appeared on Holden’s universally adored The Inheritors).

However, returning to the studio in a solo capacity has rejuvenated Jaumet, allowing him to return to his very unique and individual working methods, one that eschews computers and is driven by intuition and improvisation. He records standing up, keeping him on his toes, something that he feels “Brings a very different energy than being seated behind a computer polishing up every detail”. Spending two months in Versatile Studio his aim was to compose and record a song a day, “I wanted to keep the spontaneity of the first take in my composition. I think that in electronic music nowadays, musicians spend too much time on their songs with computers. You can work on every detail so that in the end everything is under control but in doing so you lose the magic of the creation from when you first get the idea”. Improvisation was key in the recording process, even down to the fresh addition of vocals to be found on parts of the record, “90% of each song was done in one take and also most of them were recorded on the first take. Even the words were improvised, for example on ‘Anatomy of a Synthesizer’ I just read the functions printed on the synthesizer I used to make that song. Improvisation is what I do the best.” During these two months Jaumet bonded deeply with his new material, “It became a piece of introspection, mentally as well as physically,” he says of the process.

La Visite is, according to the man himself, “More luminous and jazzy than its predecessor” and while it’s still not short of a club banger or two, there is a meditative and lush depth to the album that is the sound of Jaumet pushing his experimental boundaries further and further. Whilst very much a one-man set-up, he operates with the projected unity of a full group, moving seamlessly from his saxophone to his drum machine (his beloved TR 808) while turning knobs and modulating synths and sending his voice through shimmering echo effects.

On the title track of the album, we hear Etienne travelling through the inside of a body, “Fantastic Voyage style” he says, referring to the 1966 Sci:Fi classic. Travelling is a key theme to be found ruminating throughout much the record, from the tone and pace of the music that aligns itself so perfectly to fast-paced midnight drives down a highway to the title of the album itself. While the title translates as ‘The Tour’ in English, it’s meaning is more complex in its native tongue, as Jaumet points out, “The meaning of this word in French is more rich than the English one. I will say the meaning lies somewhere between ‘the inner journey’ and ‘the visit’, the name of the album is a key to understanding my music”.

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