ELYSIAN PARK [CD|2xLP|DIGITAL]
Elysian Park is the third album by French, London based producer Franz Kirmann and his second for German imprint Denovali. If Franz Kirmann’s second album, ‘Meridians’ (2014) was a continuation of the nostalgic dreamlike electronica of his first, ‘Random Access Memories’ (2010), then ‘Elysian Park’ is a complete departure from it.
The album was born from ‘Hyper Trophies’, a 2012 installation project by Berlin art studio Zeitguised that Kirmann was commissioned to soundtrack. Both the visual and sonic aesthetic of that project were instrumental in defining the artistic and sonic approach to Elysian Park. ‘Hyper Trophies’ was a crossover art/fashion project and consisted of three endless video loops presented in a vertical format and showing unemotional and deadpan female models floating amongst nocturnal backdrops, evoking ghostly figures in some apocalyptical wastelands. That static verticality and the feeling of loneliness are very present in the 14 compositions that form ‘Elysian Park’. The music fades in and out, creeps up on you and disappears; The tracks bear no traditional structures, seem to lead nowhere and have no obvious melodies, riffs or no beats to hang on to. There is a deep sense of space and emptiness surrounding the music forcing the listener’s attention to focus on the physicality of the sound rather than any melodic, harmonic or rhythmical content. Kirmann refers to this record as “environmental”, and is clearly interested in setting a space for the listener to wander around and it is as if the music was approached in a sculptural way, the pieces born through carving into the sounds rather than the sounds being organised over a linear timeline.
Another key influence on the development of “Elysian Park” was the reading of Michel Houellebecq’s 2005 novel ‘The Possibility Of An Island’. In Franz Kirmann’s mind, Zeitguised digital sculptures offered an interesting graphic extension of the novel’s themes in which human clones living in a post apocalyptical future study the lives of their originator from the early 21st century and attempt to understand human emotions and connect with each other. The ‘Hyper Trophies’ video loops feel very organic and their textures strangely real, as if made of rubber or fabric, and the lines between what’s real or digitally made are blurred. The sonic materials on Elysian Park proceeds from a similar approach: whether created from YouTube recuperated advertising, mangled pop samples, speech synthesis programs or digitally recreated ethnic instruments, they all converge to create a virtual world made of “sonic junk” that may feel abstract or alienating but also vaguely familiar.
But for all its bleak harshness, there are many moments of tranquil clarity on Elysian Park and a sense of a search for a better, more peaceful place. The brooding and bleak numbers are offset against pieces of sepulchral beauty (Tears In Your Eyes, Halcyon, Darknet) or sedated peacefulness (Mirage / Diazepam Dreams / Paradiso Beach). Through its everyday sounds vaporised into oblivion, and it’s majestic sense of emptiness, Elysian Park eschews a fragmented black geography of an emotionally alienated consumerist society.