FULL PRESS REVIEW for “Solstitial Memories”
Joshua Pickard @ The Tape Deck
The music of experimental electronic artist Raphael Leray is housed within the frayed circuits and cables of a minimalist ambient aesthetic. What quickly becomes apparent is just how organized his approach to these fractured sounds is—curiously enough, there seems to be a pop heart beating at the center of his compositions. It’s not necessarily overt, but his noise is guided by the same underlying inclinations that might pop up on the radio. The art of creating melody—such as it is with this kind of music—among the static and hiss is paramount to the impact of Leray’s overall sound.
On his latest release, “Solstitial Memories,” he transforms glitchy electronic pulses and wobbly veins of wired rhythms into something that functions as a bizarre sort of pop reflection. The music is still very much indebted to the scattered blips and bloops commonly associated with the genre, but Leray forces his listeners to consider multiple perspectives as each track slowly reveals itself. The result, a collection of interrelated songs that slowly melt into one another, is beautifully synchronous and exhibits a wide range of melodic experimentation. By converting our expectations into casually cyclical patterns, he allows these sounds to take on a well-earned life of their own.
角田太郎@ WALTZ SHOP
Ryan Masteller @ Cassette Gods
Paris-born, Tokyo-domiciled Raphael Leray has one of the best Bandcamp bios I’ve ever seen: “Raphael Leray is an experimental melodist, engineer, and occasional illustrator….” That description flows with a deft lyricism that’s surprising to find in an artist known mainly for wordless composition. If that were me, I’d print up thousands of business cards with that on it. It’s too good not to pass out to everyone I’d meet.
As a self-proclaimed “experimental melodicist,” there’s a lot to expect in the music unleashed upon the world by one so described. You can’t just knock out a pop tune with some warbly synthesizer and call it a day (I’m looking at you … Weezer, I guess?). Leray’s got it covered, though, don’t you worry, because his music doesn’t screw around in the slightest. It’s intensely obvious that every single note and pattern released on Solstitial Memories was agonized over, the detail scrutinized to a micro degree. In some ways it’s small, personal music, in that it feels insular and particular, a product of one person made for consumption by individuals. But just as you’d find if you bent your head to the ground and observed the great living activity there, if you bend your ear closely to Solstitial Memories, it reveals itself more clearly under examination.
That’s the magic of the tape. Every moment is a deep, clean breath, every melody a hint of birdsong at sunrise. Even tracks with distinct percussive elements like “Dance I” and “War” invite pure immersion that leaves you feeling refreshed on the other side. I can’t get enough of it – I’ve literally listened to it four times in a row while barely writing this review, because I keep getting distracted by it, and my writing suffers. Sometimes I don’t write good, and it’s because music invades my brain’s writing parts for its own insidious purposes and makes me stupid. Of course, once the music’s off and I shake the haze, I’m back to my good old self again, ready to shout rudely to anyone within earshot how good Raphael Leray is. I get a lot of funny looks at the supermarket.
So I’ll end by shouting at you readers instead, and spare the incredulous onlookers I encounter in public. You won’t find a better entry point to the Phinery aesthetic than Raphael Leray. His work – at times music box–like, at others gloriously meditative – is cut-and-paste gorgeousness. It’s probably hard to be this inventive and still have time to do other things. Like print up business cards or shop for groceries. You know, the basics.
Raffaello Russo @ Music won’t save you
La seconda vita artistica di Raphael Leray ha tratto le mosse dal suo trasferimento in Giappone dove, dopo quasi un decennio di inattività, l’artista francese ha ritrovato la propria ispirazione, alimentata dalla dimensione insulare e dalla cultura di quel Paese, rispecchiata nelle arti sotto forma di delicatezza ed equilibrio.
Entrambi tali elementi ricorrono infatti incontaminati nella sua seconda cassetta “Solstitial Memories”, raccolta di dieci brevi frammenti sonori (nemmeno mezz’ora di durata complessiva) cesellati come miniature elettro-acustiche dal sapore vagamente orientale.
Giocando con glitch e loop armonici, Leray ricombina in ogni brano le tessere di puzzle, che di volta in volta danno luogo a serene istantanee bucoliche o a visioni sottilmente distopiche, tutto sempre all’insegna di un impressionismo elettro-acustico di aggraziata spontaneità.