Like many of electronic music’s most interesting labels, Antinote has always been comfortable embracing the contrast between dark and light. The Parisian label has managed to find a balance between moody, murky electronic darkness – see the releases by Stephane Laporte, Albinos, and some of Iueke and Geena’s more robust moments – and releases that reach-out towards the afternoon sun with all the hazy enthusiasm of a newborn child. In fact, many of these more obviously picturesque moments – particularly D.K’s wonderful album, Drop, and Domenique Dumont’s stunning mini-album, Comme Ça – could be considered among the imprint’s finest releases to date.
Life Goes On If You’re Lucky, the second Antinote release from Nicolas ‘Nico’ Motte, sits somewhere between these two distinctive approaches. His Antinote debut, 2014’s brilliant Rheologia, was an altogether darker beast, featuring a quintet of woozy, full-throttle tracks that paid tribute to surging early ‘80s new wave, John Carpenter, “psych-prog”, and cult synthesizer-heavy film soundtracks. Atmospheric whilst often feeling intense and druggy, it was one of Antinote’s more clandestine releases.
It would be fair to say that Life Goes On If You’re Lucky is nowhere near as icy, cold or stylized. There are, naturally, a few moments seemingly touched by sadness and regret (see the tear-jerking, slo-mo throb of “Tiger For Breakfast”, and the similarly melancholic closing track “Beats Benny Keats”, with its’ lilting synth brass and winding, alien melodies), but these are easily outnumbered by tracks that put a looser, cheerier and distinctively warmer spin on Motte’s synthesizer-heavy style.
While his previous Antinote excursion seemed designed with the dancefloor in mind – certainly terms of tempo and intensity, at the very least – Life Goes On If You’re Lucky largely bobs along at a more sedate pace, with chiming melodies and stretched-out chords reclining over sparse, delay-laden beats. Having used on so much energy on its’ hard-wired predecessor, it feels like Motte pines for a comfortable sofa and a glass of something gently boozy. For all these reasons and more, it feels like a smiling companion piece to the frowning, world-weary grumpiness of Rheologia; a kind of belated virtual flipside to Motte’s previous Antinote excursion. Regardless, it makes for hugely enjoyable listening.
Highlights are pleasingly plentiful, from the title track’s cascading melodies, dubbed-out beats and drowsy, sunset chords, to the bold, fuzzy house-not-house of “I.C.A”. Both pale in comparison, though, to the Balearic bagginess of “Tacotac”, whose sparkling pianos, dreamy female vocals, downtempo grooves and bubbling synth-bass recall the loved-up cheeriness of classic ambient house.
1. Tema D’Amore
2. Life Goes On If You Are Lucky
4. Tiger For Breakfast
5. La Figure De Rey
7. Beats Benny Keats