Premiere: Gaspard de La Montagne – Steam

Gaspard de La Montagne’s sophomore effort via creaked records is a natural progression from his debut with the Swiss producer suggesting Stallion/Steam “is pretty much the same idea that followed the first one, although more developed.” Pôle first introduced us to the producer’s atmospheric interpretation of techno, as it wallowed in layers of airy textures on de La Montagne’s debut. Happy with the way that record turned out the producer turned to the same set-up and got to work, refining those ideas from the debut with four new tracks. “There were these four tracks, and they were pretty different, making up two distinct pairs. Somehow the four tracks work together, but you can also separate them and I thought it would be great to release them in two parts.“ Stallion and Steam are the first to make it out, and we find in them, the same emphasis on textures from Pôle while at the same time the two releases set side to side can be read as a biography of the artist’s early development. While we find a greater concentrated effort in the creating the staggering depth in the layers of the track, Gaspard is of the opinion there is “something more mechanical in the rhythm parts we worked on.” During our Skype conversation Gaspard often uses we instead of I and at first I thought he might be using the pronoun in the royal sense, but as I probe further into the ideas behind the release, we find a mystery man lurking in the shadows, subtly administrating an influential touch to Gaspard’s music. Nathan Baumann (The Fawn) was first accredited on Gaspard’s Alpes and Pôle, but it appears the vocalist’s guidance is never too far away for Gaspard. “When we work together on stuff it just sounds great.” Nathan’s experience as a vocalist is responsible for the “complicated harmonic developments” in Gaspard’s music and this is something that really shines through when we listen to Steam, a song we at the Formant have the pleasure of premiering to you today.

In Steam we find some of that mechanical magnetism in the locomotive beat, pounding its way through the track, but it’s the layers of sparkling pads that envelop the listener. A trance-inducing chord progression plays out via a reverberating synth while a two-tone sub bass anchors the beginning of each phrase. The track has a progressive nature to it as various parts join to add layer upon layer, continuously building the tension that only resolves at the end as the remnants of noise float away into the distance. “I really worked on the texture and the grain of the sound. Texture is really important to me.“ Steam echoes this sentiment in the way the layers are added to the track as it develops, but it also comes across as something that happens organically rather than methodically on Steam and in fact Stallion. “It’s something that’s very important to me, to work organically.“ Gaspard however is unsure of where this organic nature comes from in his music, not being able to put it down to “personal stuff,” or merely “feeling” his way through the compositions. The organic nature of Gaspard’s working methods is the source for the way his breed of dance music comes together in its ethereal result. Gaspard had an affinity with this sound early on in his production career. “I found something in that atmospherically techno stuff.” His musical career spans 12 years today with his first adventures taking the form of a hip-hop band. After a production course, he ”discovered stuff like drum and bass and techno” and it’s in the techno’s progressive nature that something just fell into place with the producer from La Chaux-de-Fonds. Alongside Nathan, he’s carved out something unique in a similar vein to the ‘kosmische’ sub-genre coming out of Germany, while focussing more on texture than perhaps the melody-focussed techno of his cosmic peers. Stallion and Steam still only marks the beginning of this producer’s career, but is by no means the work of a novice with a very professional touch to the production quality of the work. With another release already in the bag for the end of the year, and possibly a series of these on their way, the producer will definitely be one to watch for the future. He’ll be playing a release party this Saturday in his hometown and when I ask him is there a last thought he’d like to relay to his audience about Steam, he cracks an innocent chuckle at his reply – “just listen”.