François Bonnet’s latest album is his richest, most evocative to date, submerging synth and organ drones, guitar shimmer and resonant tones around beds of expertly-tweaked noise. It’s a devilishly specific sound, recalling bits of Basinski and FUJI||||||||||TA, but steeped in GRM lore gliding into liminal states where things are never quite what they seem.
With a title like ‘Shifted in Dreams’, you might expect Bonnet to grip onto a shoegaze-ambient third rail and shock himself into latter-day TikTok relevance – thankfully, this ain’t that record. The INA GRM director’s latest perceives dreams in a different way from their blissed aesthetic representation; for Bonnet, a dream highlights the inconsistencies of semiotic reality, amplifying emotional states and the blurry impressionism lost to daily ephemera. To illustrate these concepts, he uses a palette of instruments that bleed into one another but often jut out to remind you that this game has its own, indecipherable logic.
And so while the opening, title track ushers us in with a fizzing, shimmering energy, ‘Barca Solare’ breaks the spell with the wooozed weirdness of the Cristal Baschet – an organ made from glass rods that was a favourite instrument of the concrète set and which here perfectly encapsulates unpredictable emotional states. Maudlin sounds – furtive strings, loping basses, orchestra pit trumpet blasts – are used as subterfuge, loading each track with a bewildering psychedelic dimension.
‘Dissipation of Light’ assembles warbling synths that dissolve into feverish wails, a flute-like tone heaves into view and Bonnet ratchets up the volume, invoking the tenor of power ambient without repeating its maligned, fragile peacocking. On ‘Allée des Brouillards’ he layers instrumental loops asymmetrically to propose a vertiginous counter to Basinski’s “Disintegration Loops” memorials. Beneath a delicate, opaque shell, a brass band does its thing with growing intensity, rotated unevenly across the sound-field, crumpled into tiny spheres before being tossed into a booming cavern.
We’ve already spent considerable time with this album, but have a sneaking suspicion that ‘Shifted in Dreams’ will just keep on clawing deeper into the darkest recesses of the soul. Stunning.