|Water Lilly - Passage Secret
Stéphane Girard 29 Jun 2009
Without much fanfare, Geneva-based label Mental Groove recently celebrated ten years of existence. Although you'd be hard-pressed to name any era-defining releases, the imprint has had its share of inspired moments, from early, refined Luciano and the rather creepy "Rather Be" by Crowdpleaser & St. Plomb to more immediate offerings from the likes of contemporary nü-rave hopefuls Brodinski, Don Rimini, Radioclit and Jokers of the Scene.
That said, Mental Groove has largely been an outlet for Swiss electronic songstress Water Lilly, whose 2005's Sputnika long player and EPs such as Dissidance, Invisible Ink and The Sleepwalker come across like a more playful and less cerebral version of Chloé. Water Lilly's most recent offering is Passage secret, a 45-minute mix CD that showcases her latest productions and collaborations as well as a bunch of label exclusives commissioned from fellow locals such as Plastique de Rêve and Pol and more obscure electronica players like Arwan, Love Motel and Place Neuve.
What is striking after a few listens is how coherent the album sounds, considering the different people involved. There is an overall unity in tone, even though each collaborator initially had carte blanche regarding the style of their input. Album opener "Panther" by Sooishi sets the mood with a subtle guitar motif intertwined with ascending synths. It quickly gives place to Arwan's more straightforward Disko B-type electro, with a crisp bassline and the mandatory vocoder vocals. Plastique de Rêve's two cuts are immediately memorable, "Dance On" being built on ethereal pads and intricate percussive details while "What's a Girl to Do" evokes the same kind of B-boy sass the producer displayed on last year's "Lost in the City/Resist" 12-inch for Smalltown Supersound.
The album's sophisticated French nodal point is composed of "Dernière Cigarette," "Après l'enfer" and "Apothéose," all of which, it seems, Lilly had something to do with before leaving room for a surprising coda composed of Ghava's "OM" and Lilly's "DAWaves," two tracks that take care of the Charlatans-esque indie-dance spectrum ("OM") and the beatless, Jean Michel Jarre-recalling electronica area ("DAWaves"). They're as fitting as they are surprising.
Take Passage Secret as the creepy little relative of Chloé's recent Live at Robert Johnson mix: in both cases, you get sinister electro boogie mixed by moody French-speaking ladies with impeccable taste. Coming in a black Ziploc-like bag and strictly limited to 500 copies, you can only order from the Metal Groove website, which makes it destined to remain a precious oddity only heard by a few devotees. But that's OK: Some treasures are better kept hard to find.