Review: 1954 – A Part of Me

A wonderful debut album by 1954 sees France firmly cementing its existing position on the electronic music scene. The Waveform Transmitter’s Andy Weights delves into the chilled, ambient dubstep world of 1954 and comes up with a treasure of 11 songs to share.

A Part Of Me is the debut album by Ivan Arlaud, alias 1954, released by the label Project:Mooncircle.

1954 is a French music producer who crafts chill-dub songs that twist between nostalgic and synthetic soundscapes, supplying equal doses of melancholia and hope, fear and confidence. Bringing together all the tones and shades of his restless imagination and then exhaling them through sounds and rhythms, these are a collection of his personal revelations.

Flower of the Dead Man is the album opener and begins with several, detuned vocal samples creating a stirring melody, with dark harmonium chords that rumble emotionally underneath synth lines, causing a kaleidoscopic blur when a female, operatic voice  is added to the mix.

Testing how low your hearing can go, the track  It was Love releases half way through for a nice drop to show exactly how well produced it is. A host of detuned vocal lines (that could include a Marvin Gaye sample?) is the focal point of a track that has just been added to Resident Advisor‘s new tracks section. Rightly so, it is a deceptive monster of a track.

Scarred with white noise and melancholic piano melodies, tracks have fluttery synths and euphoric chords, as the words are dragged through extreme but expertly realised time stretches and tune alterations. Colored Lies cleverly introduces an airy vocal chant that hangs like thick fog, all ethereal, until an arpeggiated synth finally unleashes into a tirade of sawtooth frequencies, splashes of cymbals and the bowed imaginations of vintage stringed instruments, lamenting synthetic origins.

Pleiade takes its title from the name given to a group of 16th century poets and suitably conjures the feelings of excelsis. In a psychedelic kind of way this album constantly changes and turns your mind in different directions which sees us slip into the warm confident vocal of Loup Na who haunts the track Blue Boy.

Sporadic and sonically sliced like an old roll of film, a guitar tickles chords and holds long, single notes as vinyl crackle sits like snowflakes on a black surface. Clever touches are in the smallest fractions of pauses and gaps, with percussive inventiveness adding a fresh unique sound.

It’s in the moody, atmospheric intros that a pensive eagerness is built for the moment that the song jumps to life, although never over extending its excitement, things are always taken off the boil at the right time, as seen with Finally which simmers nicely. What 1954 does, with measured compositions, is frequently add and subtract to the sonic palette.

That makes for great listening, as seen in the case of To Die For which is the quickest number so far. Tip-toeing with a cool beat and a wicked, filter tweaked melody line, this song is destined for the clubs and dancefloors.

As the album draws to an end, the brilliant Closer takes us on another suspenseful journey of raspy chords, glitchy vocal samples and synth blasts, coming into sharp focus like streaks of light behind wet glass. We Used to Smoke, featuring Mt, begins with a hazy atmosphere and a drilling pitched drum that builds into a bustling percussive track which has a great, upbeat vibe possessing funky arpeggiated synth lines.

Packed full of 11 brave and earnest tracks that constantly change shape, evolve and explore a wide range of instruments, with a flair of musicality, that makes this album impossible be put in the box of ordinaries.

This is in the shops and available now on the Project:Mooncircle label. You can own 1954 A Part of Me on both vinyl and digital.

Take a minute to sample some moments from the album here –


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