Mise En Abyme is the second full-length by Joni Void, the avant-electronica project of France/Canada producer Jean Cousin, following his acutely accomplished and acclaimed 2017 debut album Selfless (#8 Experimental Album of 2017 at Pitchfork). Consistent with Selfless, the primary materials for the sample-based cut-up songcraft on Mise En Abyme are Cousin’s recordings of the voices of various friends. His self-professed body/voice dysmorphia, social disphoria, and search for the disembodied-yet-emotional transcendent subject, continues to compel the use of other (predominantly non-verbal) voices in the construction of these sublimely affecting electronic-minimalist compositions. Mise En Abyme is markedly more introspective and meditative than its predecessor, explicitly in search of intimacy and recuperative beauty. Grappling with a cascade of heartbreaks and discontinuities over the past year, Cousin also calls the new album a "time-travel experiment", as he culls sounds from devices and sources spanning childhood to the to retrieve and reframe subjective memories, histories and “regressions through former selves” via immersion in the evocative potential of the mostly wordless voices of others. The resulting song cycle is a remarkable blend of conceptual abstraction and highly emotive warmth, interiority, humanity and specificity.
Joni Void is the newly minted pseudonym of producer Jean Cousin - known until now in online music communities as the prolific Johnny Ripper. Moving to MontrÃ©al in 2012 from his native France, Cousin plunged into the city's fertile DIY/loft scene and rapidly evolved from cloistered bedroom/virtual persona to highly engaged organizer and multi-media live performer. An increasing obsession with micro-sampling, aleatory composition and history of cinema - alongside an increasingly active practice of remixing and beat-making - has seen Cousin's music flourish in fascinating ways. His personal hero Delia Derbyshire (BBC Radiophonic Workshop) has cemented his commitment to making musique concrÃ¨te avant-pop soundscaping. On Selfless, Joni Void constructs tracks entirely from found sources and aims not to ‘play’ anything at all - while celebrating intimate community and inter-subjectivity through solicitation of private voice recordings from various musician and spoken word friends. The album is an exploration of catharsis and the escape from entrapments of subjectivity and solipsism, chock full of stand-out tracks that work in on their own but also make for a wonderfully complex, coherent and compelling album of structured sampledelica, balancing a freeform spirit with the conceptual, emotive and stylistic specificity of individual songcraft, to glorious effect.