The first “official” full-length release on Nicolas Jaar’s new Other People label, Parisian pianist and multi-instrumentalist Valentin Stip has the unduly honor of being the label’s first justification for existence. An ambient and drone recording, Stip’s LP Sigh is an incredibly rich and diverse album that is as psychedelic in sense as it is enchanting.
A mixture of prepared beats and pre-programmed instruments, Stip maintains a steady flow throughout Sigh, keeping the experimental-like nature of the genre to a minimum while still infusing bits of his pianist past.
Most notably on the track “Aletheia,” Stip creates a blended altered-sitar feel but ends off with dark tones of piano keys. The combination sounds horrible on paper but Stip’s subtly keeps the mixture in check and the shift from one pacing to the next in the same track is fairly smooth.
Sigh can be best described as being split in two parts. The first 23 or so minutes are what you expect from a experimental ambient/drone records of the genre but again Stip doesn’t let the status quo of his peers win out and remains relatively subdued for the most part.
Starting with the track “Aveu” is where the monotonous pacing begins to show a bit more wear. At this point, Stip’s averseness to go beyond the record’s average level of BPM cab be a struggle to listen and arguably a breaking point for the LP to judge Stip’s creativity. Following up with the spacey “****” and its easy to generalize the record as a whole as a bit too on the cautious side for an experimental drone record.
But sticking around just long enough for “Regards sur l’Enfance (I et II)” Stip undoubtedly pulls the two best highlights of Sigh. “Regards sur l’Enfance (I et II)” starts off with a very jewelry box, twilight sparkle sound that slowly evolves into a atmospheric piano serenade.
The ending title track is far and above the greatest vision of where Stip’s potential lies. Moody but deeply rich in color, Stip’s composing skills shine in the record’s closure and a perfect example of how to merge electronics with acoustic shades.
Sigh won’t win any awards for being groundbreaking and or a startling revelation but its a respectable debut and enjoyable listen throughout nonetheless.
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