Although this is just the debut album from French artist Judith Juillerat, her name has surfaced several times in the past several months because of her work. Under the name Lilliom, she had her reworking of "Army Of Me" (which appears on this album) appear on a UNICEF-sponsored compilation of remixes of that track, and she added vocals to one of the only solid tracks on T. Raumschmiere's recent Blitzkrieg Pop album. With Soliloquy she enters a world inhabited by artists such as AGF and Barbara Morgenstern, where experimental electro-pop tracks are melted together with warm chanteuse vocals, a combination that I seemingly never get tired of.
What's interesting about Juillerat is her choice of technology in creating her work. Instead of putting everything together on a computer (which is what I would have guessed after hearing the album), she slowly layers everything together in a multi-track recorder with a variety of analogue and digital synths, mini samples, effects machines, and other toys. The result doesn't sound hugely different, but offers a bit of insight as to her process (which seems a little less tied-in with current trends). After a spacey instrumental opener that recalls the glory days of the Warp Records label Artificial Intelligence series, the release moves into the woozy "Haphazardly," where Juillerat adds breathy, stream-of-consciousness vocals to a pitter-patter track flutters with heavy panning.
"Vola Au Vent" pulls things back a bit to reveal some glitchy and sparse programming and smooth bass chords over which alternately spoken and sung vocals are added, but Juillerat is quickly back to more frantic sounds with the stunning epic of "Forget Me Not" (which mingles pretty piano notes with rushes of electronic blippery). About halfway through the album, she drops the strange "Mes Nuits Sont Plus Belles Que Vos Jours," which loops a rapidly degrading sample of George Bush (the 40th president, not the current one) behind some twisted, almost nursery-rhyme sounding electronics. Along the same lines, sometimes her more free form side gets the best of her, and while it makes for fairly unique soundcapes, it's not always that easy to get through ("Pondlife" in particular is a buzzy muddle of murky layers of analogue synths all squiggling and squealing).
Soliloquy isn't afraid to touch on lots of different sounds, which is good considering it runs almost an hour in length. "Frolic" is a dark, aggressive track that blends in heavy layers of darkwave synths while "Ahlan" opens with a blast of noisy electronics before settling into what might be the most poppy track on the album (sounding downright trip-hop). Meanwhile, "Apple Of Your Eye" is all backwards vocals and synth melodies that sound like some kind of bad baroque harpsichord trip (in a good way). Considering the definition of the album title and the way in which the vocals are delivered on the release, the title Soliloquy seems to fit pretty well with the somewhat detached style of delivery (and the occasionally disorienting sounds). An excellent and ambitious debut.