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Davide Balula
(Active Suspension)

Davide Balula is a French artist that first came to my attention with his two contributions to the Active Suspension Vs Clapping Music compilation that came out only a couple months back. Balula has managed to carve out sort of a unique genre for himself, mixing folk and indie rock music along with manipulated found-sound and lots of electronic manipulation. It's never done in a way that's obvious and many times not even expected, making for a release that keeps you guessing which way it will turn while not being so drastic that it scares you away.

The disc opens with "Eburn(9V)," and the manipulations are kept to a minimum, as it sounds like a folk track recorded with a touch of hiss, but the vocals occasionally glitch and skip, and soft noise crops up once in awhile without ever throwing the track out of sync. "Puis Décongéle" shoots things further into the digital realm, shuffling along with looped handclaps and guitars while digital glitchery bleeds into the mix. It's the closest thing I've heard to the absolutely unique world of The Books yet, and it works quite well.

"Én Jet De Soude" is a 6-minute mini-epic that takes just about every trick that Balula uses and brings it together for a complete hodgepodge. After an opening guitar refrain, the track breaks off into a slightly manipulated section before a middle section that is completely unaffected (and unfortunately much less interesting, sounding like a fairly-standard coffee-shop soloist) before breaking off into a treated final section that turns it all back into something lovely.

"Lorsqu Il N'Est Plus" is one of the more challenging tracks, but is also one of the most successful as guitar strums are slowed down as played through molasses and 8-bit plunks skip and shimmer across the surface as sub-bass shuffles like tectonic plates below the whole thing. At it's best, the album sounds like indie-folk by way of Mego, and at other moments lets too much of the original sound through. Balula obviously has an interesting thing going, though, and when he's on it's like a completely new take on an old sound. Is it glitch-folk? Yeah, something like that.

Rating: 7.5