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It has been five long years since Cape Noire unconspicuously released her “Ad Nauseam” debut on an unsuspecting world. We had just about given up on ever hearing something from the enigmatic Paris, France electro/triphop diva again until “Javel” (French for ‘bleach’) quite unexpectedly turned up in our social media feed. A lot can (and will) happen in five years and just when we thought Cape Noire had retired her cape to the vestiaire she strikes back with “Javel”. Just like its illustrious predecessor “Javel” is 5 tracks or about 15 minutes of smooth, catchy triphop with a pulsating electro bend. One French newspaper dubbed her “gothic electronic” in 2015 and that is perhaps the most accurate way of describing what Cape Noire sounds like in lieu of actually hearing her yourself. There are worse ways of spending 15 minutes than in company of Parisian fashion icon Cape Noire.

For the last couple of years we feared that the curtain had fallen over Cape Noire. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. The mysterious blackcaped musician returns with “Javel” after a 5-year exile. Just like on “Ad Nauseam” the question on everybody’s mind is, “who is Cape Noire?” and the answer is obvious and evident to those in the know. What is certain is that Cape Noire is a versatile and experienced performer who has been a mainstay in the French pop – and rock world at least since the early 2000s. As a musician Cape Noire has tried her hand at a multitude of genres before taking on her current alter ego. That Cape Noire even extended beyond the initial “Ad Nauseam” EP is cause for celebration in and of itself. “Javel” builds upon the aura of mystique of the debut and cements that Cape Noire is one of the most fascinating new voices in the world of electro, industrial, and triphop. Cape Noire is the sound of the future…

In case there’s any doubt “Javel” sounds like an illicit lovechild between “Pretty Hate Machine” Nine Inch Nails, Kosheen circa “Resist” with bluesy vocals à la KT Tunstall. It’s amazing just how close to Sian Evans that Cape Noire sounds. Now even moreso than on “Ad Nauseam”. Instantly laying waste to any doubts opening track ‘The Prey’ has a bouncing beat and reassures that “Javel” is a continuation from the first EP. ‘Till It’s Over’ borrows not only part of the title but also a chorus line from Lenny Kravitz’ ‘It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over’. ‘Geometric Love’ opens with a romantic piano sure to make you think Cape Noire is going to get her Vanessa Carlton or Tori Amos on. ‘Kiss Of the Virgin’ strays the widest from anything Cape Noire has done previously. Only after almost 2 minutes of just piano and vocals the drum machine kicks in. It’s the closest thing to an actual ballad you’re likely to hear from Cape Noire. Just like “Ad Nauseam” before it “Javel” is catchy, soulful, and danceable. There are the occassional darker moments and melodies, but things never get as harrowing, dissonant, and ungentle as, say, Chu Ishikawa but neither does “Javel” ever succumb to forcing itself into any subdued pop hooks present just below the surface .

So far Cape Noire has persisted with the EP format but we’d love to hear what she could come up with the ebbs and flow within the context of a full album. At the quarter of an hour “Javel” is over before you know it. If we were to split hairs it could be noted that the piano doesn’t feature quite as prominently as it did on the first EP. The vocals on the last two tracks are somewhat more nasally than in the first three. The production is virtually identical to that of “Ad Nauseam” but everything is a little fuller and warmer sounding. If “Javel” is testament to anything, it’s that Cape Noire is more comfortable in her niche. “Javel” possesses a great focus and the hooks are catchier than ever before. For those who keep track of such things, the artwork of both EPs is identical – except that the dominant color on “Ad Nauseam” was black whereas here it is white. We wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Cape Noire ends up ghostwriting for other Francophone artists (we’d love to hear what she could write for Jamie-Lee Smit, for example) and we’d love to hear Cape Noire tackle dub techno, progressive electronic, or even ambient. Hell, we’d love a Cape Noire piano-pop record. It would probably sound something like “Rabbits On the Run” or “Liberman”, and that’d be wickedly awesome.

We’re looking forward to hearing in whatever direction Cape Noire decides to move from here. It would be interesting to hear what she could come up within the full album format or whether she’s going to perservere with EPs for the time being. It’s good having Cape Noire back after a five-year hiatus and it remains a question for the ages why the mainstream hasn’t picked up on her yet. Cape Noire would go over well over alternative festivals, high-end dance temples, as well as goth clubs. The beauty of Cape Noire is that there’s something for everybody. “Javel” was very much worth the five-year wait but we can only hope that Cape Noire will return sooner rather than later with the follow-up. A release like this only intensifies the mystique surrounding Cape Noire and her music. Whether her insistence on anonymity is a boon or a bane to the overall enjoyment of her music is entirely up to the individual listener. Good having you back, Cape Noire.



France has a well-established history in electronic music, especially the French Touch movement that was pioneered by the likes of Jean-Michel Jarre and Cerrone. In the late 1990s and early 2000s the French Euro dance substyle was prevalent everywhere thanks to the success of diverse artists as Air, Cassius, Daft Punk, St. Germain, Stardust and Vitalic. Below the mainstream young talent is taking said sound into new, and exciting directions. One of these new promises is enigmatic Parisian artist Cape Noire. Despite comprising of only 6 tracks “Ad Nauseam” lays the groundwork for Cape Noire to explore either direction, be it electronic or soulful, of her current triphop sound.

1907287_1507392069512657_1624458002356062201_nCape Noire is a relatively new electro/triphop artist from Paris, France that has opted for anonymity. She does this by dressing up in a black cape. It is this black cape from which the band derives its name. Prior to her current project the woman behind Cape Noire was involved in bands of a different music style. While her voice sounds familiar and similar to a number of other artists the identity of Cape Noire has yet to be revealed. The anonimity feeds into Cape Noire’s aura of mystique. “Ad Nauseam” is Cape Noire’s debut EP, which was independently released and marketed not that long ago. Hopefully sooner rather than later Cape Noire will follow up this EP with a proper full lenght.

The EP opens with the single ‘Fire’, which was the subject of a music video, and ‘Fight’ both which are more soulful. ‘Bam Bam’ is the most danceable track of the record. In the middle of the EP there’s a serene piano interlude that serves as a bridge to ‘Three Feathers’. ‘Avalanche’ is easily the most electronic sounding track of the EP. Most of Cape Noire’s music is based on piano melodies, electronic drumbeats and vocal hooks. A lot of these tracks appear as deceptively simple hook-oriented affairs on first glance, but reveal themselves to be cleverly arranged upon closer scrutiny. The stream-of-consciouss lyrics along with the sensual vocal cadence make “Ad Nauseam” more than a  mere sum of its parts. Cape Noire balances the fine line between triphop and club music without doing concessions to either. Minimalism is Cape Noire’s biggest strength.

In many respects “Ad Nauseam” is similar, both musically and vocally, to the solo recordings of Tricky vocalist Marina Topley-Bird and Björk’s first album. Cape Noire however is far less directly soul and jazz inspired in its instrumentation, and songwriting. In several instances the vocals are reminiscent of KT Tunstall and Kosheen singer Sian Evans. Like Björk’s “Début” there’s an undercurrent of electronic dance music to many of the songs. At its most electronic Cape Noire sounds like Nine Inch Nails’ more introspective material circa “The Downward Spiral” and “The Fragile”. The softer passages recall Gotye’s “Like Drawing Blood” with its warm production, and down tempo electronic beats. Cape Noire almost sounds like the female equivalent of Gotye. Comparisons to Lana del Rey and her “Born to Die” album are inevitable at this point.

Given the consistent quality in both production and writing it is hard to believe that “Ad Nauseam” is a home-recorded product. Most of the EP was mixed by Frederic Lefranc, except for ‘Fire’ that was mixed by Franck Huesco. The vocals on ‘Fire’ were recorded by Frédéric Duquesne, whereas the vocals on ‘Fifteen’ were recorded by Frederic Lefranc. The EP was mastered by Benjamin Joubert at Translab Mastering Studios. It will be interesting to hear where Cape Noire will go from this EP. ‘Bam Bam’ and ‘Avalanche’ prove that she masters the electronic side of her sound, while ‘Fire’, ‘Fifteen’ and ‘Three Feathers’ display her versatility with more soul oriented material. If Cape Noire at some point ends up doing a double album of electronic songs on one side, and more introspective soul/jazz inspired ones on the other it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising.