Ténéré is a French music producer with a taste for bikes and baroque music. Born Pierre-Élie Robert in 1989, he grew up as a member of a very music-oriented family, living in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris. Both his parents are classically-trained instrumentists and he heard the sound of the harpsichord at home on a daily basis since his earliest years. His father also worked (and still works) as a pastor and the family was living in a presbytery. He, his younger sister and two brothers all went to the conservatory and he actually became the “lone ranger” among his siblings when he chose to give up his music studies to make electronic, contemporary tracks.

As a 10-year old, he discovered hip-hop and fell in love with the music and the vibe. It was his first encounter with non-classical music and it hit him hard, so hard that he decided a few years later to quit his studies at the music conservatory. He then plunged into trip-hop and even more electronic stuff and finally had an epiphany at 20 when he listened to James Blake’s early (and classic) EPs The Bells Sketch and CMYK. This British guy was writing harmonies and building aural architectures somewhat close to the works of the 18th century baroque composers Pierre-Élie was so familiar with. He was using new, electronic devices to realize an ancient dream and the former classically-trained kind got instantly hooked on his distinctive, romantic and intricate sound.

A few years ago, he released music as one half of a duo called Vendredi. After two EPs for the No Format label, he and his bandmate decided to part ways and now, here is his first solo effort, as Ténéré, with an EP called : Lux In Tenebris – the latin for “Light in Darkness”. And indeed there’s an unmistakable contrast in those two tracks between uplifting feelings and bluesy melancholy. “Tenebris” is an fast and glorious ballad, an epic, romantic footwork jam, with a double-time tempo that makes things simultaneously rushing and slowing. The Blake element is definitely here but one can also guess the influence of Ryuichi Sakamoto – conscious or not –, and a taste for exquisite detail and pointillist textures. The second track, “In Lucem”, featuring Clara Sergent on vocals, is a little more cosy-feeling and warm-hearted, and sounds like a nu-soul lullaby for both millenials and pre-digital natives. This is music made to heal the soul but also to get in touch with what first hurt. There’s something both moving and exhilarating in the way Ténéré manipulates sounds and melodies. And it’s addictive.


olivier (at) grand-blanc.net

cyril (at) projet-octopus.com

david (at) nowadaysrecords.com


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