The 2006 collaboration between EDH (Emanuelle de Héricourt) and similarly minded producer Hypo, ‘The Correct Use of Pets’, remains one of this writer’s favourite albums of the past decade. I don’t know what claims I could make for the objective importance of such an apparently unassuming album, but in terms of the amount of pleasure it has given, its replayability, it has had few equals. The appeal of this bricolage pop – assembled from uncanny samples and analogue keyboards, reimagining 80s new wave electronic pop, lounge music and all manner of dance music styles – that EDH creates alone or in conjunction with Hypo is hard to pinpoint; in a way, that’s already part of the appeal. As with her previous work, ‘Prédature’ is perfectly poised between playfulness and seriousness, mess and finesse, rhythmic dynamism and melancholy introspection, presence and absence.
‘Prédature’ is obviously more fully formed than the sketchy essays of her previous release, the free download ‘New York Tracks 2001-2002’, but there’s still something tantalisingly unfinished and unvarnished about the 14 sonic objects here. In spite of that, EDH has a strong sonic imprint – whether she’s employing deep, dubstep-style bass on ‘Stephanovitch’ or near-jungle-y breakbeats on ‘Dead Dog’, they always feel fully incorporated into her world.
There’s something rather moving about ‘Prédature’ and EDH’s music as well, that is actually linked to the quietness and lack of expressivity of her voice as well as to the lyrics. Often, the words will amount to little more than a few repeated phrases: on opener ‘Ramble’ de Héricourt intones “I want to get off that plane/give me more exit doors”, while on ‘Dead Dog’, she sings ‘dead dog/dead dog in the cloud’, with the barest hint of wistfulness. EDH’s label, Lentonia, describe de Héricourt’s voice as a “presence phantomatique” (very much de nos jours, linking into hauntology). Rather than performances of the ‘self’, what the voice/lyrics evoke most of all – and this is reflected in the combination of machinic order and fleshly imperfection in the music – is neuron signals, or the processing of external stimuli; the brain going about its job, essentially, always with the unconscious lurking somewhere there in the background too. EDH sounds as though she stays as close to the initial impulse as possible, and that makes for highly compulsive listening.