Technical Kidman's Mathieu Arsenault Soundtracks Self-Discovery on Seulement's 'EX PO'

BY Stephan BoissonneaultPublished Nov 10, 2021

EX PO, the debut album from Seulement (a.k.a. Mathieu Arsenault of Montreal's Technical Kidman), is an electronic collection of songs that explores the idiosyncrasies and the frenetic energies of self-perception, and it could not have come at a more unprecedented time. Right now, much of society is rewriting the very fabric of their being, either deciding to continue down the same road they once lived, pre-pandemic, or transform their life into something greater.

This is what EX PO is truly about: coming to terms with the fact that you've been molded by constant, simultaneous media, subconsciously or consciously, and determining if it's a right fit. It's looking at yourself in the mirror and dissecting the pieces that make you, you. 

Using an array of samples, FM radio feedback, decaying blips and bloops, and his menacingly passionate voice, Arsenault presents these personal themes and then slowly morphs them into something that becomes more and more unrecognizable. At times you hear muted, but tense paranoia ("ENVERS"), sensations of strained memory ("TRANSIT"), and quivering vocal work, bringing an image of Arsenault almost at the point of tears ("PLI").

His voice is the glue that holds the chaos together and the lyricism — derived from a more phonetic French, stream of consciousness space — puts his listeners in a trance, only broken by a few dramatic pauses between tracks. 

"EXCEPTÉ 1," begins with a recurring crackling and bouncing, sort of like a game of electronic pong, and then turns inward with the first set of anthemic vocal melodies about bending bodies. It sounds as if Arsenault is leading you up a grand spiral staircase, surrounded by oscillating geometric patterns and shapes, to an unknown, vague reward of your choosing. 

The title track "EX PO" continues this build, introduced by a flatlining heart monitor and then waves of claustrophobic, distorted static. Again, Arsenault loops and layers his voice to create a choir that guides you through his micro world. 

Watching the corresponding visualizers, what Arsenault calls "artistic collaborations," created/directed by Myriam Bleau, Véro Marengère, and Charles-Andre Coderre — all championed visual artists whose work has been presented at MUTEK, ACOUSMA, and others — adds another audiovisual interpretation to Seulement's musical frenzy. They're definitely recommended viewings when listening to the tracks for a second or third time. 

EX PO is only eight songs, but has an almost theatrical beginning-to-end programming. It could be called required listening for any experimental electronica fans or anyone remotely interested in the genres surrounding, but has been too shy to dip their feet in. It's just weird enough for the hardcore electronic purists, but Arsenault's voice makes it increasingly accessible.

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