thefacesblur & Séance: Elemental | Maison Fauna; April 2. 


Despite the onset of a global pandemic, Durham record label Maison Fauna has continued providing a platform for consistently fantastic dance music. The label’s latest offering, the EP elemental, comes from a pair of long esteemed Triangle producers, thefacesblur and Séance.

The two originally came together as collaborators on the live series Ephemeral at The Fruit, which brought esteemed acts like Green Velvet and Shiba San to the warehouse turned venue, but elemental finds the pair melding musical minds to craft a moody mix of dance grooves.

While each track follows a static musical palette of punchy bass, snappy percussion, and atmospheric flourishes, the way these four tracks ebb and flow together makes for a fascinating listen.

Kicking off with “aqva,” a track built around a processed vocal sample from Bruce Lee, the duo sets the tone for a subdued take on contemporary house music. The track begins with warm pads, slowly layering on different percussive elements and vocal cuts until a rounded bassline cuts through the mix.

“Aqva,” much like the rest of the EP, is filled with an immense level of detail, packing in faint accents to each instrument that helps to fill out the soundscape. Disparate bursts of panned white noise or sparsely used percussive hits help to highlight every corner of a song’s horizon. “Terra” kicks off with staccato synth chords and a steady wave of hi-hats, but gradually gives way to a booming bass that enshrouds the listener. As the low-end rattles, the pair peppers in elements of breakbeat percussion with high-pitched synth lines that dance in-and-out of chopped vocal samples.

And while some of these tracks can feel frenetic at times, thefacesblur and Séance demonstrate a brilliant understanding of dynamics. The duo knows when to cut the legs out from a mix and let the song—and perhaps anyone dancing to the music—breathe. Closing track “ignis” is a great example of this, punctuated by perpetual synth stabs and a driving techno drum-beat, the wall of sound gets thicker with each measure but also follows a natural rhythm that builds tension and provides much-needed release. 

Elemental highlights the strong suits of each producer’s wheelhouse and feels like a musical conversation between longtime friends. Rather than having moments that feel clearly driven by one artist over the other, elements of each unique style come together for a mix as buoyant as it is dark and foreboding And if you close your eyes at the right moments, you can almost feel the haze of a fog machine in a packed-out Fruit.

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