"Sometimes, I hate to think that I exist inside of other people's heads / To think that there are non-consensual perceptions of me that I have scarcely any control of fashioning," Natalie Reid confesses in the opening of her parenthetically identified contribution to Selfless. Jean Cousin's first release under new pseudonym Joni Void, the album is an anxious, sampladelic collage of the community closely surrounding the Montreal-via-Lille, France producer. Reid's spoken words materialize next to phone-recorded freestyle lines from rapper Ogun Afariogun (Tide Jewel), a chopped, looped, and swirling Kyla Brooks (Nag), and a whispered Ayuko Goto (Noah).
All of these appearances are touched by the busied, surreal clockwork of Cousin's production — colourful, glitchy bursts exploding the ticks and tocks throughout — and they're divided by wholly instrumental entries that breathe further meaning into their perceptual relativism.
Through gathering found sounds literally scooped from the cutting room floor, razors audibly slice through bits of film while reels whir on like engines on "Cinema Without People," a metaphor that — like kintsugi art — speaks to and makes visible the quiet moments of careful curation that build into the ongoing completion of our projected selves. "Doppler," meanwhile, scores the complicated, fleeting nature of object perception, sirens zooming in and out of perception like the album's guests and their individual perspectives.
Following a steady output of self-released original albums and remixes, Selfless marks Cousin's first on a record label, and cleverly manoeuvres the dilated listenership with savvy. By enlisting a cast of guests and sounds that increasingly shatter expectations as they're slowly deployed (after an A-side frontloaded with ambience, monochrome metallic industrialism ("Abjection") chases rap ("Young Werther (Ogun's Song)") in the record's bottom half), Cousin undermines any reputations that might precede him as a bedroom recordist, and, in an intertextual (if semi-roundabout) way, Selfless provides an intimate look at a new player on the scene and with it, a portrait of a chameleonic contemporary spirit. ()