With a slew of releases recently on label luminaries such as Peasant Magik, Housecraft, Tape Drift and Stunned, Enfer Boreal’s Maxime Primault has certainly been busy. Usually opting for a lush drone sound, Primault uses his medium well here, stripping back the project for the less expansive 3” format.
And strip back he does. Broken into two tracks, the album is entrenched in static ambiance as the opening “You Say Seven, I See Five” consists of little more than the delayed decay of tiny vocal fragments laid out over swaths of airy, barely-there drone. You could put this on and forget about it almost immediately, which I suppose is the point as it creates an insular intimacy that’s tough to achieve with any more elements present.
If the first track is ambient however, the second, entitled “Dust Whispers, Chocolate Tooth, Lost Jewel,” is downright elusive. Close examination reveals plenty of sounds within, but the overall effect here is one of almost complete quiet. Over the course of its fourteen-plus minutes it does create some footing, moving from the fan rotation opening into soft tinkling bells and looped vocal layers, but everything here is buried deep beneath thick layers of crackling atmosphere. Primault’s smart enough to make it all work though, adeptly pulling out crucial parts that were so distant you could hardly tell they were there until they vanish. Even the combined babblings of crowded voices sounds more like some cave-captured zephyr until their hiss softly dissipates into a gentle guitar loop that typically would serve as only one small part of Enfer Boreal’s rich soundscape. When birdcalls emit outward, they serve as a peaceful closure which succinctly settles the work right where so many of Primault’s pieces begin.
One of Enfer Boreal’s more soft-spoken works, “Seven Ways” leaves a watermark where so many droners stamp their presence down. It may not be Primault’s most emotive, beautiful, or accessible piece, but it doesn’t try to be either. Instead the work serves as a contemplative miniature that, though packed with enough ideas for a full album, is content in the small crevice where it takes residence. A beautiful package. 8/10 -- Henry Smith (8 April, 2009)