Ouri Offers Something for Everyone, from Electronic to Neo-Classical, on 'Frame of a Fauna'

Ouri Offers Something for Everyone, from Electronic to Neo-Classical, on 'Frame of a Fauna'
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Ouri's first full-length feels more like a culmination than a debut. After all, she's coming into it with a deeper musical background than most. She started in France as a prodigious composer, training in piano, cello and harp from the age of five. She left home at 16, bound for Montreal, drawn to the electronic music scene — a far cry from her orchestral upbringing. She began producing and DJing, collaborating with local musicians, and developing a profile for the heavily textured mix of instruments, synths and found sound that coloured her first singles and EPs.

She quickly became a fixture of the city's bubbling music scene, participating in the prestigious Red Bull Music Academy Bass Camp and headlining Boiler Room events. On her debut album, Frame of a Fauna, Ouri binds the layers of her musical history together in a dense fusion. 

Fauna stretches Ouri's ability for worldbuilding over a nebulous theme. While examining the shifts of life, death and trauma, she laces orchestral compositions with industrial fuzz and trip-hop. Opener "Ossature" combines Ouri's soft lilt over an amniotic heartbeat of a drum loop, eventually giving way to glitching textures.

Shades of Frame of a Fauna feel like a showcase of her skill to combine genres into an abrasive, heady mix. The development of the album was similarly transient, starting with recording sessions in London and Berlin, and persisting through births and deaths in her family. Moments like these are sewn into the narrative and emotional structure of the album, with Ouri probing the sweeps of fate as they move through her life. "Shape of It" sets Ouri's lyrics over trembling strings that build into an assured chorus as she recites the track's central mantra, "I care for mine / that's what I find the most freeing / so I care for mine." Vocals fade, the din of a crowd develops and a dissonant orchestra wraps everything with a gut-wrenching tailspin.

As usual, Ouri shines in collaboration. "Odd or God" sees fellow Montrealer Mind Bath trading vocals over a beat that seems designed to match his James Blake-esque vocals. This and the mobilegirl-featuring "Too Fast No Pain" see Ouri meeting features at their level, rather than the other way around. Both songs feel just a bit more streamlined than the others, perhaps colouring within the lines to accommodate for featured voices. It doesn't necessarily take anything away from any of the songs, but it begs the question of whether it's necessary at all. After all, we've seen other vocalists meet her on her level in previous instances, namely her 2017 collaborative EP with Mind Bath or with Helena Deland on this year's Hildegard album.

In all, Frame of a Fauna presents a compelling archive of Ouri's many musical personas. First-time listeners will certainly find somewhere to stand on her spectrum of sound, whether it be the Aphex Twin-influenced breakbeats or the alt-classical compositions. It's a nuanced encapsulation of her sound from underground DJ to fully-rounded composer. (Born Twice / Lighter Than Air)