Electronic music composer Franck Martin has a remarkable career as a recording artist. Originally from France, Franck has visited many parts of the world - most notably the Pacific Islands - to draw inspiration as well as to meet and work with like-minded creative individuals. A student of Engineering and Computing, he has allowed his knowledge to serve as an important ingredient in his own original style of atmospheric, ambient soundscapes. Of the 7 albums that he has released, I recently had the pleasure of listening to Passages, which was released in July 2021. A conceptual release comprised of nine separate tracks under the larger body of work where each track is its own Passage, the album on a whole is driven by a dark, low, series of drone like beats that swell suddenly and abruptly in and out, serving as a steady rhythmic pulse. As this pulse carries throughout each segment, a series of layers and motifs unique to each movement give off a different dynamic and character each time. The dynamics shift at different points on each Passage, culminating in a harsher manner on the later Passages of the album. The instrumentation builds up at different points, so it's as if you're never simply listening to the same movement twice in a row. Influences of Musique Concrète and Krautrock are highly prominent, recalling artists and composers such as Jean-Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk, and Varese. The production and audio effects are well done, carefully placed, and presented with clever nuance. The careful use of panning, ping-pong effects, and surround sound elements allow the listener to get pulled into the three-dimensional musical landscape. Not only is the darkness envisioned, but it is felt on a more visceral level. The synthesizer patches and effects remind me of scenes within films such as The Terminator, Blade Runner, Scanners, and Total Recall. The versatility and diversity of the effects and instruments implemented on each track are arranged in such a way as to not overshadow the consistent and foreboding low drone-like pulses that carry on throughout, reminding the listener that they're at face with what lies ahead and that there's no turning back. According to Franck, Passages was inspired by a health scare as well as some of his reflective thoughts of the world at face with the threats of the pandemic and the erosion of humanity. Musically, his thoughts show through well with the dystopian, bleak, callous nature of the soundscapes that underly the entire work. These movements, dark as they appear at face value, may allow one to reflect within and remind oneself that life should never be taken for granted or outright dismissed if there's any underlying hope to create and sustain a better world for the present and future. The cover of the album - a bleak picture of the ocean by a desolate shore - summarizes the overall mood of the album. Behind every surface of tranquility, something more sinister and insidious may be lurking underneath. I highly recommend Franck Martin's album Passages. Even better, I recommend this album with headphones in a controlled environment or with Spatial Audio if you use Apple music. Overall, it's a brilliant work.
Photo credit: Matt Biddulph Franck Martin - Passages || Stream & Purchase || Bandcamp Franck Martin - Official Website Franck Martin - Twitter