- I'm finding across the board this year musicians are releasing things that I really need headphones to get in full. There's something about Breaking the Fourth Wall that fills a room but doesn't quite penetrate it; the action is largely under the surface. It's not that Breaking lacks definition; there's a certainty about it as a work, and in the individual parts, that takes definition as its first principle. Even when it settles into the back- or middle-ground you get an idea of the general shape. It's pleasant, not in an unchallenging way but one in which the music is so fully in its own world it can take you or leave you, rather than the other way around. There's an inborn wit to that approach: think of Steely Dan or Kid Creole and the Coconuts, where the lyrics heighten the effect.
There are words here, but that's not what communicates the album's odd graininess. It's the graininess itself—the sonics. Clearly Breaking the Fourth Wall is full of production touches that demand close listening: the way various instrumental combinations in "32 Tonnes de Pigeons" evoke the ambience of a few strains of pre-Beatles music, from early bossa nova to Blue Note jazz; "Discothèque," the album's 11-minute-long beating heart of the album, is dominated by billowing low end: the kick drum has so much depth it might as well be a close-miked tympani, and the bassline bounds similarly. This is a hipster record. It's canny in a way that's clearly studied but is led entirely by feel.
This is hardly a new approach—or maybe just an effect; I don't want anyone to confuse my interpretation with the artist's intentions, of which I have no real idea. OK, fine—they're on Circus Company, a label that is to house what Hyperdub is to dubstep or DFA to the past, a conduit that acts as a refractor. They make French house sound like a DIY funhouse. Breaking is no exception. So forgive me for diving into the weirder wrinkles, because for all its cleverness, Breaking the Fourth Wall is first and foremost approachable. It's leisurely paced without being too indulgent. It keeps unfolding in more ways than one.
02. Can't Have Everything feat. dOP
04. OnTheLips feat. Dave Aju
09. Walking The Pattern
10. Radio Novela feat. Dynamike