JULIAN DeMARRE delivers effective cinematic electronica…
Musician and composer Julian DeMarre’s forte is crafting ambient/electronica compositions that pull in analogue synths to create oddly atmospheric soundscapes. In 2015, DeMarre teamed up with director Malik Bader for the crime thriller Cash Only, which went on to win the Cheval Noir award at the Fantasia Film Festival.
Now DeMarre has composed a series of tracks for new album Electric Child, whose central theme revolves around reconnecting with the composer’s youth as well as looking forward to an uncertain future. Produced in collaboration with Dan Powell (Soniccouture) and recorded in both LA and Berlin, the album also features contributions from Heiko Maile (Camouflage), Michael Saup (Supreme Particle) and percussionist Tom Saup.
There’s a languorous quality to opening track ‘In A Strange Place’ whose oddly floating melodies suggest a sense of peace and tranquility. ‘State Of Flux’ combines a choppy rhythm with a warm, immersive somnambulance that suggests late nights and early mornings. It’s a track that breathes the warm ambience that’s reminiscent of bands such as Boards Of Canada.
Meanwhile, ‘Im Uberfluss’ opts for a more traditional technopop approach with its modulating rhythms and synth melodies.
Electric Child also features tracks that take inspiration from controversial topics, such as the pulsing electronica of ‘Finland’. The track is weaved around samples of a speech that Hitler gave in 1939 in response to Roosevelt’s demand that Germany not attack certain countries. DeMarre conceived of the track as a response to the recent rise of nationalist tendencies across the world.
Elsewhere, the mesmerising fractured rhythms of ’Disco Nnect’ draws inspiration from the final minutes in the TEPCO control centre in 2011, when the nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima power plant was imminent. The track also contains audio communication TEPCO was forced to release. This theme of nuclear disaster in Japan looms large over the album and Johan & Vedder’s video for the track ‘State Of Flux’ contains imagery from the forbidden zone in Fukushima Prefecture.
It’s also a concept that carries over into ‘Silverlining in Shinjuku’, whose squelchy electronics were inspired by an article revolving around “Silver Porn,” a trend in Japan where senior citizens find a second career appearing in porno films made in the red light district of Tokyo. ‘Silverlining in Shinjuku’ offers up a reflection on how life would be affected if a nuclear fallout had reached Tokyo. The track is peppered with indistinct vocal samples lending it a slight sense of unease.
‘Like To Feel Your Blip’ has hints of Leftfield in its bassy rhythms while tracks such as ‘Aggregat’ and ‘Clavius’ offer a much simpler slice of electronica that casts a nod to the more melodic elements of the German school of electronic music (think Tangerine Dream or Cluster).
There’s nods to the iconic Blade Runner score by Vangelis on ‘Portoplasm’ whose slightly out of phase synths pulse in and out lending it a ’70s cinematic feel, the sort of thing that Italian pro rock outfit Goblin made such an art out of. Elsewhere, ‘Echospace’ has a warm analogue feel to it overlaid with dreampop synths that convey a sense of comfortable fuzziness.
Described as “atmospheric music with the weight of tape machines and synths from the ’70s and ’80s”, the album does call to mind elements of synthwave and fans of the likes of the Stranger Things soundtrack will find common ground here. But in Electric Child, DeMarre has assembled an album that still carries its own identity and manages to convey an inspired soundtrack ambience.
Electric Child is due for release digitally on 20th March 2017 via Hommebot.
Publications that have featured his contributions include Electronic Sound, Metro, Japan Update Weekly, J-Pop Go, Wavegirl and OMD Messages.