Keeping it dark with new French electronic act FRAGRANCE…
If you like your synthpop dark and melancholic, then you could do worse than dialing up Fragrance, a French outfit fielded by Paris-based musician Matthieu Roche.
There’s certainly an element of the sleazy synths of TR/ST working as an influence here with a similarly brooding electronic collage of sound. But Roche has also covered Depeche Mode in the past, with a particularly dreamy take on ‘Photographic’.
Despite Fragrance being lauded by some outlets as pursuing an ’80s approach to electronic music, instead there’s something very contemporary about Roche’s take on composition and style here. It can always be a tough line to balance, but there’s much more at work here than any of the tiresome 6,432 Depeche Mode soundalikes at large today…
Fragrance have now released the EP Dust & Disorders, which features 5 tracks that delve into a world of darkwave decadence, but Roche manages to have a flair for melodic flourishes and mood that keeps things interesting.
On ‘Care For The Proof’ the influence of TR/ST looms large with a vocal approach that’s culled from “Goth Eeyore” Robert Alfons’ own brooding lyrical delivery. Meanwhile, random synths hammer out notes through a dark atmospheric soup.
‘Lust For Lights’ threatens to be a straight-up synthpop number. which at times sounds like a lost Marsheaux tune. It’s certainly one of the EP’s finest moments with a driving rhythmn that’s sunk into a swirling dreamscape of electronic effects. Similarly, ‘Through The Wall’ is built up from a repeating synth motif with swathes of indistinct lyrics.
There’s a more darker approach on the weighty ‘Collapse’ with its bass-infused synth melodies. Meanwhile, EP closer ‘Postcards’ adopts a brighter tone with its echoing melodies and minimalist electronic percussion.
Fragrance offers up a polished set of songs (mastered by Hélène de Thoury from Hante. and Minuit Machine) that’s going to appeal to fans of the darker side of the synthpop spectrum. As a new artist, it’s going to be interesting to see where Roche takes this particular project next.
Download it for free (pay-what-you-want) on Bandcamp :
Publications that have featured his contributions include Electronic Sound, Metro, Japan Update Weekly, J-Pop Go, Wavegirl and OMD Messages.