Introducing: New French Act, C.A.R.

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Edgy French musician Chloé Raunet is pursuing a new solo project. Since 2006, the supercharged artist has been an accomplished musician as a guest vocalist, writer and arranger, contributing to over 20 recordings. Most famously, she recorded and performed with the London-based electronic duo, Battant.  But in September 2011, Battant’s multi-instrumentalist wunderkind and Raunet’s partner, Joel Dever, died suddenly. He was just 25 years old.

If one can draw assumptions from the artist’s work since then, she’s been keeping busy, thriving as a self-publishing DJ. This spring, she shrugged off all of her old names and epithets, revealing her new project, C.A.R. The first release under this new moniker is Laika, an electronic/pop solo EP that Raunet released on June 24 through her own label in Paris, Kill The DJ.

Title track “Laika” is inspired by the history of the Soviet space dog. Laika was one of the first animals launched into space. The poor dog died within a few hours of her space flight in 1957. There was never any expectation of her survival.

“Laika won’t grow old,” Raunet sings against minimal guitar and drum tracks. As the song builds, Raunet’s softly annunciated vocals are crystalline as they flirt around dreamy pinnacles of synth. These flare up like jagged spires. The voice plays tantalizing “tag” with itself before a hand clapped truce. The incandescent quality on this track is a mixture of silhouetted reflections and moonbeam sensuality. And regret never seems too be far away.

The release’s second track, “Hijk,” is musically lighter with mysterious, bent twangy tones that remind listeners of old John Barry themes. The flock of spoken words spill out amid some pallid china-cup chippings. Now and then a fizz of sound shoots up and wobbles. The narration itself sounds like a telephone call that’s been routinely overheard. It’s clear that there’s more importance placed on the lyrics of this song; C.A.R.’s in no rush to deliver its seriousness.

The final track is tightly choreographed at its start, with a much poppier air. “A Ticket” has a cheer-leading rhythm and enough bubble-gum plastic bonding within it before it builds and brews into a much more complicated storm of sound. C.A.R. sings the word “happy” again and again in numerous lines, contradicting the movement of the song; the difference between the beginning and the end of the track is night and day. C.A.R. combines dark samples toward the end to create wiggy turbulence and a vortex of sticky leaves. The initial pace of the track soldiers on until the end.

Laika is filled with dark waves, conflicting pearly opalescence, and radial bursts of star-shine. The clever mixes contrast timid moments with flashes of audacity. It’s a brave piece of art and a thrilling beginning for C.A.R., who will hopefully make her way around Europe and overseas in the future. She most recently opened a show in France for Cat Power, so this could just be the start of big things for her.

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