Mise En Abyme
CST140      180gLP CD MP3 FLAC


Reviews
"'Selfless' sounded like it was gnashing its teeth, a fantasyland of tension and bruxism. 'Mise En Abyme' subsumes that anxiety into a series of songs that court despair and wonder with equal fervor... Vocals abound on the album's first side, giving the ear something to grip even when they add more texture than narrative. "Dysfunctional Helper" layers a wordless melody sung by Ayuko Goto (also known as Noah, who appeared on Selfless) over a squeaking industrial beat, emphasizing the sanctuary that the voice and the act of singing, even idly, can create in the mind. The percussion suggests urban chaos, while the voice induces calm. "Lov-Ender" braids samples of Montreal musician Catherine Debard's voice into psychedelic polyrhythms. Both songs find their beat over time, rather than being led by it. Human noise directs the machine sound, instead of the other way around... If the record's first half concerns vocal communication, side B stages its breakdown. On "No Reply," Joni Void samples answering machine messages, dial-up modems, and the unmistakable glitchy static old cell phones used to cast across nearby speakers just before receiving a call or text. These are obsolete sounds of anticipation and disappointment, sounds heard playing phone tag on a landline or picking up the receiver while someone else in the house tried to connect to the internet. Maybe they sound like alien noise to someone who's only known one millennium, but Joni Void doesn't aim for nostalgia here; "No Reply" doesn't fetishize these sounds, but attempts to locate the self within their milieu, pinging old memories and tracing them forward to the present. What bodily response does a busy tone prompt? What old tension or melancholy does it dredge up in the nervous system?
Pitchfork (8/10)

"If Mise En Abyme places Cousin in the void, he's using his time there to register his own humanity and strengthen his resolve, making sense of the world through selective erasure and curation."
Exclaim (9/10)

"Utilizing rough recordings of female friends singing and talking, and sampled sounds from his childhood (video games, home movies), French-Canadian producer Jean Cousin creates a profoundly sad and affecting collage of memory and longing, ghostly torch songs half-buried in the claustrophobic electronic clatter of the modern world.”
MOJO

“Cousin is one of those electronic musicians capable of writing unexpected emotion out of his sounds. His source material frequently comes from the captured voices of his friends, whether that be snippets of conversation, readings of texts or harmonic, wordless singing, all of which are then processed and placed sensitively amid a supporting infrastructure of electronic rhythms, glitches and snatches of non-melodies.”
Electronic Sound

“Another fantastical collage from Joni aka Jean Cousin… The overall effect of the album is multi-fold, entering the ears on many levels and pleasing as it puzzles.”
Vanguard Online

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Deluxe LP is 180gram heavyweight audiophile vinyl pressed at Optimal (Germany) and comes in a thick 24pt/450gsm jacket printed on uncoated 100% recycled paperboard, with a 12"x24" art print poster, and 320kbps MP3 download card.


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CD comes in a custom mini-gatefold jacket printed on uncoated 100% recycled paperboard, with an inner dust sleeve housing the disc.


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Mise En Abyme is the second full-length by Joni Void, the avant-electronica project of France/Canada producer Jean Cousin, following his acutely accomplished and acclaimed 2017 debut album Selfless. (#8 Experimental Album of 2017 at Pitchfork, among other accolades.)
 
Mise En Abyme refers to the aesthetic technique of putting a copy within the work itself, a story within a story, as a metafunction that aims to reflect the object back onto the perceptual subject in an explicitly conceptual way. Cousin also plays upon the literal etymology of the term – “placed into abyss” – invoking the recursive neuroses of identity and self-consciousness, the lacuna of seeing/being-seen and projection/introspection; the metaphoric standing between two mirrors, plunged into spatio-temporal disorientation through reflections multiplied to an impossibly infinite vanishing point.
 
Consistent with Selfless, the primary raw material for the sample-based cut-up songcraft on Mise En Abyme is Cousin’s recordings of the voices of various friends. His self-professed body/voice dysmorphia and search for the disembodied-yet-emotional transcendent subject continues to mandate the use of other (mostly wordless) voices in the construction of his sublimely affecting electronic-minimalist compositions. But where Selfless was a restless, kinetic and visceral work of outer projection, Mise En Abyme is markedly more introspective and meditative – explicitly in search of intimacy and recuperative beauty.
 
Grappling with a cascade of heartbreaks and discontinuities over the past year, Cousin also calls the new album a “time-travel experiment”, as he culls sounds from devices and sources spanning childhood to the present (phones, cameras, video games, home movies) to retrieve and reframe subjective memories, histories and “regressions through former selves” through immersion in the evocative potential of the mostly wordless voices of others. The resulting sonic portraits simultaneously convey formally abstract dislocations and highly emotive warmth, interiority, humanity and specificity. Side A especially highlights these works – the “with people” half of the album, replete with contemplative, melancholic songs, each featuring a deconstructed performance by a different female voice, propelled to varying degrees with additive rhythmic and textural layers. Side B is the “isolation” half: vocal samples continue to make appearances, including Cousin’s own voice on the vertiginous “Voix Sans Issue” and his own lyrics on the computer-narrated text-to-speech spoken word of the confessional “Deep Impression” – but the contrasting vibe is more claustrophobic, anxious and febrile. Mise En Abyme ends with a throwback to Cousin’s pre-Joni Void keyboard-based works as johnny_ripper on the gorgeous Rhodes piece “Persistence”, while the closing exuberant maximalist jam of “Resolve” fittingly samples every previous song and locks the album into a self-referential recursive sequence.
 
Thanks for listening.
 

Packaging notes
Deluxe LP is 180gram heavyweight audiophile midnight ultrablack vinyl pressed at Optimal (Germany) and comes in a thick 24pt/450gsm jacket printed on uncoated 100% recycled paperboard, with a 12"x24" art print poster, and 320kbps MP3 download card. CD comes in a custom mini-gatefold jacket printed on uncoated 100% recycled paperboard, with an inner dust sleeve housing the disc.
 
Tracklist
Side One
1. Paradox (Introspection)
2. Dysfunctional Helper (with Noah)
3. Lov-Ender (with YlangYlang)
4. Abusers (with Sarah Pagé)
5. Non-Dit (with N NAO)
6. No Reply (Interruption)
7. Safe House
8. Cinetrauma
9. Voix Sans Issue
10. Deep Impression / Im Depression
11. Persistence
12. Resolve (Outrospection)
 
Release date: 29 March 2019
Running time: 44:28
 
 
Credits

Constructed and assembled by Jean Cousin.

GUESTS
Catherine Debard: vocals on "Lov-Ender"
Sarah Pagé: vocals on "Abusers"
Naomie De Lorimier: vocals on "Non-Dit"
Ayuko Goto: Vocals on "Dysfunctional Helper"

Mastered by Warren Hildebrand.