In the complexity of each moment of time, one can find inspiration or contemplation. One can even find themselves drawn back to earlier moments through a variety of reflection points, recalling the mood from a past moment in time. It is precisely these kinds of reflections that inspired Franck Martin to complete his next album “Passages.” It all started with the picture found on the front cover, along with the mood at that moment. Martin had experienced a health scare earlier in the year, during which he thought about his own mortality. With the challenges of the pandemic, working from home, the reality became clear that the only thing that does not change is change. Looking at the picture, the sun passing through the clouds, reflections on the water, it is the perfect imagery for Passages.
Passages was created through the evolution of a patch Martin has been using, for shows like Modular World, and the NPR Tiny Desk Contest. Recorded in quad using a mix of Buchla and Moog synths and later processed as a Dolby Atmos release featuring 1080p video of the mountainous Pacifica skyline and available as a 48kHz / 24-bit MP4 download. Alternatively, a 5.1 mix is also available as 48kHz / 24-bit FLAC, plus the seamless nine part piece also has been bounced down to binaural stereo, best for headphone listening and available as a lossless audio download.
From an immersionist standpoint, Martin’s mixes are absolutely stellar and completely engaging. He continually moves elements around the room as the piece evolves, making excellent use of the space between the four speakers. In a perfect tapestry of sound, Martin rotates pulsating and meandering elements clockwise, filling every nook and cranny along the way.
In the earliest parts of the ongoing suite of music, listeners will hear crackling sounds bubbling and bursting from all corners. On one’s first listen, they may be concerned that their hi-fi system is at fault, or the digital file has been corrupted. Of course, this is not the case, instead the crackling is truly the essence and unique characteristic of Martin’s music. Listeners have been placed into a very unique soundscape that one could classify as truly weird or even consider it a movie soundtrack. Regardless of how one classifies Passages, it goes far beyond the realm that we live in, creating an aural journey unlike any other listeners have probably heard.
What I find comforting about Passages, is how it constantly evolves with a pulsating stationary heartbeat upfront, while other parts bubble and circulate around the space. It is difficult to describe the sounds, some of which could be considered akin to sirens, and others as gurgling liquids, heated popping, rumbling earthquake, and the like.
Martin’s music does not find melody, rather it finds the world of noise. Not specifically distorted nor thrashing, instead it offers a quietness, yet an edge that is engaging. In one segment a synthesizer swoops down, continually rotating around the room, becoming louder and softer as it moves from the front to the back across the back speakers, and then returns up to the front to start around the clock once again.
As we get further into the piece, scary voice like sounds shutter the senses from the distance, calling from all corners, plus other elements shoot across the soundscape in a reflective manner. Martin truly is an expert at using the quadscape and his move into Dolby Atmos has allowed a larger audience from the streaming world to enjoy his special form of music.
I found Passages to be the kind of release where aural discovery occurs with each listen. Even though the music is not extremely dense, instead there are subtleties that one may simply miss on the first listen. Thus, Passages not only evolves as one listens, but it also evolves through multiple listens.
For those seeking to be immersed and filled with ear candy all in a tapestry of sound, Passages is absolutely the album. This is the kind of space where one can kick back and know that the artist will fill their mind with an auralscape that constantly changes.
released March 4, 2022
Dolby Atmos 48kHz / 24-bit MP4 download, 5.1 48kHz / 24-bit AIF download, and binaural stereo download. Also available for streaming.