Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.
L’Avenue's Électrique combines the artist's signature smoothness with dark shadows and a more intense feeling than his previous albums. There’s a sense of threat, but it's wrapped up in gliding package that only serves to enhance the overall darkness that permeates the music. Ti album finds a balance between contrasting elements that I thoroughly enjoy.
The first element of Électrique that drew my attention was the delicacy of many of the synth elements. The heaviest tracks hit hard, but many of my favourite parts of the album were gentler. The elevated synths’ melancholy ache feels more emotionally powerful to me and provide a strong contrast with the dense, heavily shadowed bass as it moves far underneath.
Another compelling aspect of this album for me was the use of sax. There’s a depth of feeling and expression in the sax’s reedy voice that I found engaging. The way it expresses emotion lends another layer of power to the album. Once again, the aching emotion in the sax parts only made the darkness rise further in my mind.
The harder hitting tracks on Électrique are the furthest from L’Avenue’s usual style, but he executed them well. They add a needed energy level to the music and balance out the more haunted and ethereal parts of the album, to give it a more rounded emotional tone. They’re a well-judged addition to the overall sound.
My Favourite Tracks Analyzed
“City of Angels” comes into being as warm, full chimes cascade with a melancholy feeling as a low rumble of bass drops in far underneath and sweeps through the track. Soft drums begin to tick and flashes of glittering synth burst in. A rapid, gritty bass pulse and smoothly gliding, vaguely threatening synth whirls mistily in the background. The chimes shine and a distorted voice over adds a twisted feeling.
A trumpet-like synth carries a pained, wandering melody while chimes shimmer and drums gently touch. Minor key, warning synths spin in a steady, slightly unsettled pattern as the drumbeat shapes the music. Distant, guitar-like synth calls in a gritty line before the howling passion of the sax cuts out over the massive drums and heavy bass. The gutsy emotion of the sax enhances the overall atmosphere of the track. There’s a drift into reverent choral sounds before the hurting, wandering sax fades slowly into silence.
Rough, gritty bass growls into the music along with lost, bell-like notes as “Midnight Chase” begins. A quickly ticking percussion instrument and massive drum flourishes are broken by a huge, harsh bass drop before the steady, smooth drumbeat shapes the music. The bell-like lead synth drifts down in a melancholy melodic line over the heartbeat of the drums.
Gently rising whorls of delicate synth tremble below the lightly touching, fragile melody as weighty bass descends. A twisting, nasal synth comes in carrying a mysterious sounding melody, full of a well-expressed sense of intrigue. The melody rises and slowly unfurls through the gently guiding drums in a roaming line.
There’s an increasing intensity in the melody as it cries out and bends over the drumbeat before drifting into a sliding, airy segment. Hollow bells play a shadowy pattern while the sonic environment radiates peace. The gleaming chimes descend over the repeating, trembling bells underneath and a full, round melody. This melodic part is even more pained than the lead synth melody. The whole track feels starlit and emotive, lost and floating out into the ether.
“Night Hunter” comes to life as a rapidly tumbling line of string-like, metallic synth moves while drifting bells shift. Bending, medium-low notes descend while angular, crystalline synths rake across the music. Elevated, glittering synth flows in a glistening, tense line while the drums throb and the heavy bass rumbles. Drums guide the music and the shadowy bass adds depth while high synths roam in a distant line.
Bell-like, full synths carry a melody that has a tragic tinge to it that I find engaging. The sax’s voice full throated, but touching with a tentative quality. Rapid, whirling synths dance out and vocal sounds exhale reverently. Jazz organ-like synth plays unmoored, lonely notes over the soft background and gliding drums. Crystal sparks cut in and the massive drums unevenly pulsate while the lambent chiming shines out above the ticking percussion.
Rain steadily falls as a slowly revolving, shining arpeggio spins and chimes flicker distantly to open “Streets of Thunder.” Unevenly pulsing bass and drums quickly coalesce into a propulsive beat as a dreamy, easily gliding melody sails out on a medium high, crystalline shining synth. Tenebrous bass moves while the gigantic drums hit hard. A volleying sound sweeps from left to right while a pipe instrument bounces in a textural pattern with a worried feeling. Sharp-edged notes adds more power and drifting bass glides, along with vocal sounding synths.
A slowly shifting, medium-high note pattern is joined by bell-like tolling and a metallic, pipe-like synth plays a shadowy, dynamic melody. Powerful bursts of thundering, Stygian sound cut in below delicate, metallic pipes carrying tremulous notes. The lead synth wanders and cascades darkly in a melodic line shrouded in darkness as the drums batter and we fade out.
“Missing in Santa Clara” commences as a shiny, unevenly pulsing, intertwining synth line moves over seriously heavy bass. A round, distorted synth bends in while twinkling, bell-like synths glitter through. The huge drums and thick bass form a solid backdrop for the drifting, elevated synths that gleam above them.
Resonant, shining notes repeat a pattern over the dark bass dropping far below them. Gigantic drums throb while the guitar-like synth grows into the track and elevated, hollow chimes echo out slowly. The sax calls out, full of intensity and a sense of mournful, heart-felt emotion. A breeze sweeps through and the bright, raised synth spins out while breathy pipes echo.
The beat briefly hits before drifts of keyboard-like synth wash through. A layer of rich, bursting synths and a shimmering flash of higher sound flickers out while the hard-hitting drums form an even pulse underneath them. There’s a strong contrast between light and darkness in this track that I enjoy.
Night noises are joined by a delicate, ethereal sonic wash with a distinctly haunted feeling as “Wolf In the City” starts. Slow arpeggios revolve over a evenly flowing bass wall and gentle sounds echo out above the arpeggios.
Sharp-edged, nasal synth reverberates out in slow notes with a tragic edge while the gigantic background darkness grows. The elevated, nasal synth cries out with emotion as the interlocking background sounds form a smooth flow.
Medium-low, hurt-feeling synth floats out in melancholy lines while a wind sweeps. The high, keening synth has a ghostly ache to it and the shadows move, but with a velvety feeling to them. This track has a sense of something desolate and empty that I find quite compelling. We fade to silence on night sounds.
Électrique is, in many ways, L’Avenue’s strongest album in my view. I like the fact that he’s branched out while retaining his unique musical character. The way he’s combined darker elements with his signature synth sounds and high production values elevates his music here. I sincerely hope to hear more fresh approaches from him in future.
© 2022 Karl Magi