Stéphane Recrosio’s solo project Astatine gives us a curiously sketchy release here in Global Exposure. It’s twenty tracks of lo-fi ideas and noodlings that feel variously either accidentally or deliberately muted, muffled, experimentally mixed, or just raw. There are guitar pieces with vocals that border on songs, but they seem like insular bedroom demo versions, lacking in confidence or punch, and with awfully recorded vocals at times- but in the context of more consciously ambient works, they feel like they make more sense.
Most of the twenty tracks are short- only a handful top the three minute mark- but when pieces like “Monotron 5” are allowed to breathe, with their dark echoing ambiences and windy tones, the coherences starts shining through. “Etude125”, with its mixture of drone and distant radio signal style noises, is a highlight, as is the varispeed playfulness of prosaically named “Snow Loop #7”.
The mood also jumps here and there quite a lot, with angrier tracks like guitar-hammering “Muzrub” shaking you down and pushing the rather thin lo-fi production approach to its edge. By contrast, despite its endearingly frustrated title, “This Rail Junction Is A Disaster” is practically a guitar ballad. Some grungy pieces like “Decipher The Fall” fall a little flat, but details like unexpected drums in “L’Art De La Defaite” keep the surprises coming throughout.
Rawness and rough edges abound on a release that seems to epitomise the introverted solo experimental guitarist genre, but which absolutely has its strengths. This will strike a chord, quietly, with quite a few listeners, I expect, although others are likely to dismiss it’s thoroughly low-quality sonics as amateurish or ‘the wrong kind’ of lo-fi.