June 20, 2024

Joni Void – “Mise En Abyme” is pleasing and puzzling, a jigsaw simultaneously built and disassembled

CONSTELLATION   29th March 2019

Mise En Abyme – or “put in the abyss” is another fantastical collage from Joni aka Jean Cousin, the French Canadian experimentalist. Found sounds are assembled alongside fabricated noises. Drawing from ideas such as John Oswald’s Plunderphonics he has created something that he feels contains itself within itself – that’s what Mise En Abyme means. I’m put in mind of the ‘last visible dog’ in Russel Hoban’s philosophical masterwork / children’s story The Mouse And His Child, where we must consider what happens in the infinite reflections in a pair of mirrors or a picture of a picture of a picture.

There are comforting pulses of steady beats and twittering colours of twisted sounds, breathy wordless vocals, spoken word, backwards tape sounds, blurry drones. Things are cut and pasted, sped up, slowed down, sped up and dropped back into themselves – it’s quite mind-whirling.

It’s a hypnotic ride, simultaneously existing as foreground attention-grabbing music and relaxing gentle pottering. A series of miniature tableaux float past the ear on rounded electronic pulses – part acoustic, part generated. There are tapes noises, voice messages, blip and burps, built together sometimes simple and linear, sometimes in multiple layers. We even wander into an almost song in Safe House. Cinetrauma has the disturbing sound of a dentist’s drill. Voix Sans Issue reaches Aphex Twin levels of complexity and intensity. It is succeeded by Deep Impression which fuses all the preceding with a gentle synth wash and a synthetic female voice traversing the border between confessional and a poem about depression. The set moves back into slower gentler spaces with the deep, mysterious and aquatic Persistence.

The overall effect of the album is multi-fold, entering the ears on many levels and pleasing as it puzzles.

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