Listen, this whole thing has been horrible. There really are no bright sides to a global pandemic. But maybe, just maybe, we’ll get to hear some music that might not otherwise have been made. Châtelet is one such example. This solo electronic project from erstwhile Maybeshewill member John Helps was actually conceived a decade ago but has lain largely dormant until now. Until there was space. Until there was time.
‘Sonder’ brings together five pieces, each of which was inspired by a specific place from Helps’ extensive touring itinerary. And while there’s a foundation of dreamy electronica throughout, each does feel distinct and unique. Strong opener ‘Yongsan’ is a slice of mini Zimmer-esque blade running whereas ‘Menai Straits’ is a warmer, sweeter, more subdued thing. And if the choral vocal samples and clattering drums of ‘Shevchenko Park’ are a bit much, everything is in its right place on the pretty, slightly Sigur Ros-ian ‘Genève’.
A long-gestating but bite-size and easy-listenable debut, ‘Sonder’ might have been composed as a form of escapism during imposed isolation for its creator, but there’s every chance that it takes you places.