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Franklin: Artificial Light

After last year's Double U album Pineapple Dream, Montpellier-based Wool Recordings boss Frank Rabeyrolles returns to his Franklin alter ego. As with the first Franklin album, Every Now and Then, Artificial Light feels like a memoradelic exercise in letting fleeting musical and personal impressions (one song here is called 'Oslo In August' and, on 'Dark Wall', he sings “All over the world, I'm looking for some new exposure”) slide over each other, creating temporary composites, mirages. As I said in the review then, this “X done in the style of Y” is a formula that can be applied to a hell of a lot of music nowadays but, as with the best of the hypnagogic popsters, in Franklin's music it's his theme, the very matter he's addressing.

As with the title Every Now and Then (the sensation of being everywhere and hence nowhere in time) Artificial Light is another expression of his approach to the issue of memory and creation. It's also something of a formula for the album – Artificial + Light. Whereas the debut took West Coast songwriting and filtered it through dubby effects and techno, this time electro-pop, in the vaguest possible sense, is the starting point, the 'artificial' element. But the 'light' is the real gift Rabeyrolles brings to the party, the delicacy and diffuseness he's able to add to a formula that's become so staid.
 
It doesn't always work – 'Eternal Outsider' is too close to its source, a drugged/sluggish retread of 'A Broken Frame'-era Depeche Mode - but it's largely a treat. Tracks like opener 'The Ah Ah Theory' manage the trick of sounding languid while actually being percussively very busy and sonically tricky. The more overtly synth-poppy material is also counterbalanced by several fidgety sketches like 'Forest Sword' (nothing like the Wirral producer), the lilting guitar pop of 'Cats in the Flat'. 'Dedicated to Numbers' is probably his most elegiac moment to date with its anthemic rave-y stabs and chiming arpeggios. It's like catching sight of a celebration on a beach at sunset in the distance, and it's perfect for the end of this (very late) summer.
 
David McKenna
 
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