Labelle’s new album NOIR ANIMA submerges itself in the darker recesses of the psyche. It’s a dark night of the soul with its own euphoric morning too. Over the last decade or so, the Réunion Island-based composer has made a name for himself exploring syncretic religion and philosophy in his work, though for his fifth studio album, his search for truth has turned inwards. On NOIR ANIMA, we get to discover more about the person who makes this extraordinary, dynamic music.
Since 2013’s Ensemble, Labelle has been dovetailing the techno that so captivated his imagination as a teenager, with traditional Maloya music – native to the French overseas département where he lives. “I’ve always been striving to make the perfect connection between techno – and especially the Detroit techno which is my first love – and the Maloya from Réunion, which is my second love and is connected very deeply with the history of the island,” says Jérémy.
Many of these tracks take us on a progressive and even psychedelic journey (as does the album played in its entirety). “Voir le point” elicits a brief moment of enlightenment experienced on a dancefloor, a kind of optical event horizon when a dancer enters a state of trance; “Entré-Allée” represents an impasse where the protagonist is enveloped by euphoric noise: “It’s a neologism in French for the very little streets between two buildings, two universes, two cultures, meeting in this unmapped space between things” explains Jérémy; and “Ciel” – or sky – celebrates a moment of pure ecstasy where the head lifts clean off and nirvana is achieved.
The NOIR part of the album title, meanwhile, refers to le chat noir prowling in the psyche: not the fabled nightspot of fin-de-siècle Montmartre or the Art Nouveau posters that linger ubiquitously around French cafes, but more a hypnagogic spirit animal or taliscat. “When I was a child,” remembers Jérémy, “I had a lot of dreams about a black feline, and many times in my dreams, I was the black feline. I was running not only with my feet but also with my hands, and I connected to the archetypes of femininity in the black feline. So for me, it represents what type of energy is inside me when I’m making electronic and traditional music together.”
That energy is put to good use on transcendental bangers like “Danse Chamane,” which recreates a ritual melody used by the San People of Namibia, and “Instant clair intemporel,” with a pulverizing groove that will help inveterate dancefloor abstainers find their feet again. NOIR ANIMA is Labelle most accomplished and profound offering to date, and proof that Jérémy Labelle is forever Jungian.