FOXTROTT crafts a collection of warm, catchy, hypnotic IDM that simmers and blooms with relentless energy.
It’s always intriguing to see how independent artists choose to release their music nowadays. Music has never been easier to disseminate and with the advent of streaming, you could make a case that adhering to traditional release schedules and formats has never mattered less. The classic method of releasing a hype-worthy single in anticipation of an LP scheduled to show up months down the line is no longer conducive to that LP’s success. And unless you’re in a specific echelon of music money makers and influencers (who aren’t even calling them LPs anymore), the utility of the LP-every-two-or-three-years format should be called into serious question.
Montreal-based electronic composer Marie-Hélène L. Delorme, aka FOXTROTT, has come up with an intriguing alternative to this standard procedure. As a follow up to her excellent LP, 2015’s A Taller Us, Delorme has opted to release a trilogy of self-produced EPs in relatively rapid succession. The first of these releases, Meditations I, was released back in June, and the second, aptly titled Meditations II, arrived on August 10th. With the third instalment coming later this year, Delorme is wisely unleashing a stream of content in the form of digestible packets that leave the listener in a steady state of anticipation. Thankfully, the fragmentary nature of the project stops with the release structure. Throughout the first two EPs, Delorme has crafted a collection of warm, catchy, hypnotic IDM that simmers and blooms with relentless energy.
After the exhaustive run of activity following A Taller Us, Delorme found herself creatively spent. In an interview with Born Music, she says that “some things happened in my life that were quite stressful and I didn’t feel like I had any music in my head anymore”. As a response to the well drying up, Delorme put her faith in a change of scenery — Oaxaca, Mexico. Sometimes, that’s all it takes: “the colours, the smells, the overall energy of the place was very nourishing, it felt like I was at the right place in this moment.”
The Meditations project was born from this revitalization. In the act of changing her outward reality, Delorme was able to look inward with fresh eyes and experiment with her emotional and creative drives. She demands this new perspective right off the bat on “Intuition”, Meditations I’s slow-burning opener: “Let the waves come to me/Rearrange and free what/I’ve been holding my whole life.” This is a project about growth, about malleability, about creating new shapes from what lies latent in us. The meditations also extend outward, tackling notions of honesty and love on Meditations I’s stunning centrepiece “WAIT”, which combines a linear groove, gorgeous synth lines and Delorme’s warm vocal delivery into a definitive musical statement.
From Meditations I’s more delicate restraint, II demonstrates Delorme’s penchant for heavier, pulsating grooves. The second release barrels out of the gate with “Better With You”, a bona fide hit that pummels you into submission with a subterranean bass tone and off-kilter drums. From there, “Melting Woods” finds Delorme leaving her vocals out of the mix, opting instead to explore lush, organic percussion arrangements that vaguely recall another illustrious Montreal-based producer. And as the final jittery notes fade out on “For As Long”, Delorme closes the book on the middle chapter of her three-part release. Notoriously the most difficult section of any trilogy, Delorme masterfully builds and sustains tension while continuing to harness the energy she found on Meditations I.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but FOXTROTT’s unique release format has worked on me. It’s not only because the EPs are tantalizingly brief, though that certainly is part of it. It’s more because it’s an interesting study in album construction. If we are to think of the Meditations project as a unified release that has been divided up to be heard in segments, then it throws Delorme’s ability to pace and order a record into stark relief. Each release has to be strong enough to stand alone, but it also needs to make sense in a continuum. Based on the two releases thus far, Delorme has succeeded in spades, and she’s left no reason to doubt the quality of the final release due out sometime soon. As the project’s namesake suggests, Meditations I and Meditations II undoubtedly arose from a combination of intense concentration and serene mental clarity. They are the result of an artist in full control of her craft — both of the form it takes and the content that renders it so effective.