Ensemble Ensemble

Resident of Montreal, by way of Toulouse, France, electronic music manipulator Olivier Alary seems to be living up to his moniker with this recent release. Although the press focused on Cat Power’s delve into the electronic world, her collaboration is but one delight to be found in this delicate, subtly impressive endeavour. If anything, Alary has found not one, but two voices that work well with a beat-driven background, with Lou Barlow (of Sebadoh and Folk Implosion fame) also putting in an endearing vocal turn. His song, "One Kind Two Minds,” bubbles with white noise and a shuffling beat, along buried acoustic guitar, while Barlow’s tantalising croon provides the entrance point for the listener. For downbeat loveliness, though, Cat Power’s collab, "Disown, Delete,” does much for this album. The guitar and samples seemed slightly disjointed with the casual vocal performance, but this just underlies the awkward theme. When Alary notches up the atmosphere, wrapping the vocals in delicate sonic gauze, that makes things really tingle. Though Alary has a couple of tracks to himself, it is the collabs that really shine, proving his name quite well. Downbeat and warm, this will delight fans of both ambient electro and adventurous folk. (Fat Cat)