Tuesday 26 February 2013

Autre Ne Veut - Anxiety

There’s a track nestled in the middle of ‘Anxiety’ (the second album from New York’s Arthur Ashin, a.k.a Autre Ne Veut) entitled Ego Free Sex Free.  It’s a track that pretty much sums up the album in terms of its free-spirited style and content. 

What’s most notable about ‘Anxiety’ is Ashin’s vocal.  High-pitched and more than a little Prince-esque, it’s an unrestrained delivery that wavers between subtle cooing and free wailing.  It’s as sexy as it is an emotive force, less concerned with melodic integrity than with simply evoking feeling.

The musical content is equally unrestrained by presenting a warped version of electro R&B, a vision that’s weird and beguiling.  Take opening track and lead single Play By Play.  Rather than following typical verse-chorus structure, the song is more episodic in nature, shifting gears with alarming frequency – from its gloriously shimmering opening, to its jerky funk middle section and gospel sing-along ending.  ‘Anxiety’, in fact, is the perfect epithet for the album as it jitters and fluctuates with schizophrenic consistency.  Beats smash and dissolve; brass squeak and honk; guitars roar and caress; synths and samples soothe and shatter.  It’s a concoction that shouldn’t work - but it does, incredibly so.  The result is an album that’s complex and layered, the sort of album where each time you listen you discover a new sound hidden in its musical depths.

But why does it work?  For starters, each wrenching jolt is paired with short catchy hooks that ensures a certain accessibility.  With Ashin’s past history as a writer of jingles, this aptitude for melody is the album’s constant.  And despite the episodic structure of these songs, they never outstay their welcome.  In fact, a handful are less than three minutes long, ending all too abruptly. 

Most of all, there’s a warm glossy sheen over the whole album stemming from Ashin’s emotive vocal.  For all the album’s nervousness, ‘Anxiety’ is open with its free-spirit and proud to be different.


Gizzle's Choice:
* Play By Play
* Counting
* Ego Free Sex Free

Listen: 'Anxiety' is available now.