Alexandre Navarro – Arcane (SEM Label)


Previous to his debut-proper Arcane, Paris-based Alexandre Navarro spent much of his career as a producer connecting with electronic and synthetic elements across assorted releases on traditional and net labels. Yet despite these initial forays, Navarro is first and foremost a guitarist – and it’s clear from the opening strains of ‘Time’. Delayed loops sashay across each other, their warmth and melody cascading into a melange of sheer beauty.

In a similar vein to Antony Harding (July Skies) and Robin Guthrie, Navarro highlights the fragility of common experience, memory and yearning in his otherworldly compositions. Pedals, valve amps, organ and flute create this discernible sound, with field recordings also entering the fray a little later on. At times, the fragility of Navarro’s instrumentation is eerily apparent, especially on ‘Awaken’ as effervescent static threatens to overtake the delicacy of his guitar progressions.

‘Flying in a Dream’ is resplendent in its duelling echoes, making light work of the intense fluctuations around the intermittent samples. Towards the end, the multifaceted title track acts as a reprise (of sorts) of ‘Time’, a ridiculously simple melody coated in lashings of reverb. It concludes with the immediacy of water running – a beautiful, if predictable way, to end the album neatly. So when the real finale ‘Bulles’ begins, the heaving tones almost scare the gentle tempo steadily built up over the album into submission, forcing it to scurry away across the temporal space.

However, the hidden track is the most peculiar of all, a dark, almost danceable number that collects a shifting melody alongside a scrunching jazz beat. Tantalisingly short, and at odds with what came before, it is immensely satisfying and makes the journey toward it all the more astounding. Arcane embeds itself into your consciousness, acting as a luscious bridge between visceral and cerebral experience, and cements Navarro as a truly gifted composer.

Alexandra Savvides