Ensemble is the moniker of Montreal composer Olivier Alary, an artist who garnered recognition after he signed with Fat Cat earlier this decade. Bjork caught wind of him and invited him to remix a few of her songs, as well as help out with a track on her “Medulla” album. This self titled album is his second release, and the result of four years work.
In terms of electronica, he has a very minimalist approach, with an almost classical bent toward crafting songs. You won’t find hard techno beats, nor the rough sputters of groups like Autechre or Aphex Twin. Instead, “Ensemble” is much more atmospheric. Notable guests show up too: Cat Power contributes songwriting and vocals to the slow, folksy “Disown, Delete” and Lou Barlow offers soft, passionate vocals in “One Kind, Two Minds.” The real treat though is London laptopist/vocalist Mileece, whose airy, whimsical voice comes off as the best fit for these stark arrangements.
Ensemble’s not for everyone, but if you’re into Eno-inspired, stripped-down electronica, Alary might be your guy. — Michael D. Ayers