Decades And Decisions

Written by: DR on 25/05/2010 13:03:31

Mr. Mathieu Artu is a French musician and the solo brain behind RQTN. He's already got three releases under belt; a debut EP "We Were ... We Are", the self-titled follow up EP, and then there's the debut full-length "Monolithes en Mouvement" - which, from the reviews I have read, was generally well received and is described as an ambitious post-rock-meets-electronica concept album. Ambitious, yes, but those French rarely aspire to anything less. Now, he's back with "Decades And Decisions", another concept album.

Concept albums are tied together by a common theme, but what that theme is here I can't quite figure out. Each song title conforms to the same format of the year first followed by the actual title, and most of them are cryptic, such as "1928 - A Birth Among Others" and "1955 - A Shelter For Lovers". I have little idea what the underlying theme is supposed to be here - and as it's a largely vocal-less (and therefore lyric-less) output, I doubt the listener would have greater success in their search for the concept; but, on previous releases RQTN seemed to favour the subject of war, which leads me to song titles a little less ambiguous such as "1942 - Struggle In The Haze", but overall, it's hard to know exactly.

If you can survive without completely knowing the meaning behind this you'll be wanting to know about the music itself, and whether it's worth listening to. "Decades And Decisions" has progressed from the post-rock of old and, for this album at least, has settled for a straightforward ambient/electronica direction. That's not to say the genres in question, and therefore the bands in those genres, are straightforward - it's just how RQTN has presented them here because, unfortunately, this album largely disappoints in its efforts to adorn bewitched attention from the listener via soundscapes that locate somewhere between adjectives such as celestial and peculiar. The keyboards on keyboard-based opener "1928 - A Birth Among Others" sound harsh and grating through the amateurish production - a problem throughout the entire album - rendering this track one of the worst on the album. Instantly after, RQTN provides us with a slither of hope for the rest of the songs in the form of second track "1942 - A Struggle In The Haze", which features booming, layered electronics that are impressive, yet scarcely found anywhere else - to much disappointment. Thereafter, it's pretty choppy, indecisive and largely numb.

There are other slithers of hope to found however; "1986 - A Son To Concede All", though the kind heard many times before, is a sombre piano track that will at least evoke some emotion within the listener. Mathieu Artu does have creative and ambitious nous, but, on the whole, there's little else to write home about other than the rare occasion when that ambition is met in near-equal match by his craftsmanship.


Download: 1942 - A Struggle In The Haze, 1986 - A Son To Concede All
For The Fans of: Bersarin Quarttet, Sankt Otten
Listen: Myspace

Release Date 01.04.2010

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