[sic] Magazine

Chevalier Avant Garde – Heterotopias

Here’s something to ponder – heterotopias are philosophical spaces “neither here nor there”. Quite how this applies to this Montreal-based duo and their bang-on-trend debut is naturally open to interpretation. Yet, in having one foot in the retro-futurism of 80s synth-pop (check that Tron-like cover art) and by simultaneously exploring themselves via new-beat minimalism, it’s perhaps easy to start jumping to conclusions all the same.

The first half of Heterotopias is thus duly ransacked from much-rummaged crates that might as well be marked “FAO John Maus , c/o Future Islands “. True then to form, the clean hi-hat rhythms of “Over The Fountain” easily marry its curiously poppy though budget beat-programming. Elsewhere, skittish arpeggios encounter cardboard-box drum patterns and vintage babbling synth that bring to mind geeky experiments with mild hallucinogenics.

The A-side’s soothing retro palette is rounded out by the house-orientated groove of “Axion” and by the ultra-limited 7” “Young” – the latter of which’s jousting sci-fi synth provides a smile as its bubbling beat and echo-delayed needle sweep ensure the track is suitable dancefloor fodder for the most discerning of bespectacled 80s aficionados.

On the flip, the spectre of New Order is inevitably conjured on “Nie Rozumiem” – that is until the cut contorts into some type of classic platform escapade, pinballing from drum ripple to powered-up romp. Expanding horizons, the simple repeat on which “Red Sea” is built is bolstered by various industrial clanks and some distant, woozy synth play.

Darker, the second super-limited single “Haircut” is a more serious beast underpinned by driving synth and a couldn’t-be-more-80s-if-it-tried, near-spoken vocal that all comes drenched in becoming echo. The closer even dabbles in beckoning glitch, just as its whistling FX strive to keep you at a distance. Best of all though is “Loss”, an exotic, intoxicating, slightly wonky jam that ought to be soundtracking the same hipster get-togethers as those currently dominated by the much-lauded Maria Minerva .

Though you can’t be two places at once you can paradoxically be both alive and dead. Though such heterotopic states and spaces may be difficult, nigh on impossible to locate, on this evidence it would nevertheless seem very much worth the effort of doing so.

~Heterotopias is out now on limited edition LP via Skrot Up . It is also currently available to stream at bandcamp.~

Chevalier Avant Garde @ bandcamp