L’Avenir is a project from Baltimore-based Jason Sloan, who is fairly widely known for his work as a sound artist and electronic musician. Engineer, Sloan’s latest release under the moniker, is a work of minimal wave and contains many elements of other dark electro genres ranging from darkwave and synthpop to the vintage appeal of synthwave. I find the Engineer EP to be a masterful release that has been crafted around Sloan’s fascination with early dark electro in regard to structure and form. After giving this new tape on Beläten a few listens, it became easy to see how L’Avenir’s audience has become connected with the project on an emotional level—a connection which can only stem from music that is not only technically well-crafted, but also fueled by introspection. Sloan’s creations transport the listener into ethereal visions where one feels as if they can actually experience the music instead of purely listening for aesthetic pleasure. As far as my own subjective experience with the album, Engineer easily synced up with the memory of my own experiences, leaving me wondering if the music was affecting my perception of the world or vice versa.
The EP consists of six tracks, each with a very different feel and sound, but the album is impressively cohesive and thoroughly engaging as a whole. Not only is L’Avenir’s approach considerably unique in a genre that has long been glutted with talent, but it also leaves me thoroughly impressed that this is work of a solo artist. The difference between Sloan’s older works under his own name and L’Avenir is the use of a more formal structure and the addition of vocals and lyrics. These newly apparent elements add a great deal to the work and make Engineer a bit more accessible for the general listener.
The EP contains a dualism that makes seemingly opposing images—like otherworldly landscapes that may be either pastoral or industrial in nature—possible within the same space. With sung vocals, the music clearly becomes engaging on many different and more personal levels. One can hear within Engineer layers of drones and melodies with electronic beats that develop around swells of synth and morose vocals; it’s an extremely fine example of minimal wave and dark electro in its most honest form.
The track order of Engineer makes for a solid two-sided flow, suited well for the tape format that it was released on. If nothing else, Sloan is successful at creating a very specific atmosphere with this EP, capably influencing the listener’s mood through his impressive followup to Étoiles (Cold Beats Records). I’ve listened too many times to count, and each time I discover something new—something to keep me listening and to engage me in a very sincere yet ethereal way. Engineer combines all the elements necessary for a release that will stand the test of time and also give the listener an experience of something beyond their usual tastes.
A1) Rise & Fall
A2) Louder than Words
A3) Close Your Eyes
B1) New Day