Disparitions is a masterclass in how to re-appear completely from a creative whirlwind with one’s sanity and muses intact.
The human body is a wondrous thing. In the same way that our bodies insist on breathing, circulating blood, and thinking, they also instinctively respond to stresses and danger by making us fight, flee, or freeze. Of all these methods of self-preservation, the freeze response has always been most curious to me; the idea of trying to render one’s self invisible by ceasing to move or make a sound seems ridiculous on its surface, but oddly it’s the response to stress that I myself default to the most. So it’s not surprising to hear that when Corridor songwriter/vocalist/guitarist Jonathan Robert found himself stressed and exhausted after extensive touring in support of his band’s awesome 2019 album Junior, his instinct was to disappear and disconnect from the whirlwind of activities he found himself in and focus on reconnecting with himself.
Disparitions, Robert’s second solo album under the name Jonathan Personne, starts silently, an empty void that gradually reveals itself as “Personne” fills in the space with spaghetti western-influenced tones and textures. Robert’s voice, hollow and disconnected, materializes like an apparition. The song is a gloriously haphazard collision of guitars that never really settles; its abrupt ending pivots hard into “Terre des hommes”, a classic-rock inspired ditty that resembles Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” as if it were covered by the Smiths. The Morricone-inspired vibes open up the whole of Disparitions, infusing the album with a sense of wide-screen wonder and each song with a grand, cinematic scope. Sparkling gems like “Dans la chambre” could have been lifted directly from Penthouse-era Luna, but don’t let the comparison fool you. Jonathan Personne is far from a sound-alike solo project. Robert’s songs and style are a fully-formed manifestation of his own visions. There’s a mesmerizing solemnity to “Grand soleil”; it sounds like nothing I’ve heard before and yet feels so familiar and organic within the context of Disparitions.
Far from being a retreat inward, Disparitions is a masterclass in how to re-appear completely from a creative whirlwind with one’s sanity and muses intact. As Jonathan Personne, Robert delivers a fully-formed and musically satisfying record to rival his work in Corridor. Robert’s instinctive musical responses – blending his smooth and silky harmonies with sometimes chilling guitar riffs, symphonic flourishes, and a melange of atmospherics and effects — makes Disparitions a compelling defence for reconnecting with oneself. It’s also a reminder that pulling back isn’t just a fight, flight, or freeze response; it’s also a way of finding personal and creative freedom.