On Francis Plagne’s latest LP, The Refrain, we catch him again mining parts of previous projects and piecing them back together. It’s a record that is closest in his discography to 2018’s Moss Trumpet in it’s musique concrete-meets-composition approach.
But where Moss Trumpet still maintains some link to referent to sound source (footsteps, leaves, bird noise) and harmonic structure (albeit sometimes dissonant), The Refrain seems to step further into abstraction. Many of the recordings capture the moments between events (an inhale of a breath, radio static, sheets of tape hiss that move across the stereo field) or are processed to the point at which they become uncanny (is that thunder or a zoom recorder turned on inside someone’s bag?). Flutes and keyboards play longer droning notes in swathes of texture. Bits of other records also crop up from the mist: a traffic signal-esque beep from Moss Trumpet, a Rural Objects melody.
It feels crude to make a clumsy and outdated art historical analogy here (considering it’s Plagne’s profession and this is by no means some regurgitation of art theory within the realm of music), but this record seems to be heading towards the non-representational, away from the the source of the sound and towards a consideration of the surface of sounds.
The short of it is that Plagne’s latest feels to me like his most puzzling so far, and I’m loving it. I could keep on rambling, but I reckon that’s probably enough for the moment…
-Mitch (Repressed Records)