BLWBCK026 – Release date : Dec 17th, 2012
Tape {66 c.} C60 including the digital edition

From the naive ‘Kiki’ to the 25 minutes of the epic ‘Mentally Strong, Morally Weak’, Appalache explodes his own musical boundaries. If there’s still the typical Julien Magot’s post-blues delicacy (“Toledo, Oh”, “Marble State Fair”), the parisian one-man band seems liberated from his own chains, exploring a broad spectrum of new tones. You can start to list the different genres of this album doped, garage, shoegaze, kraut, postrock, folk, experimental… until you find it boring and useless. Like a smile* can express a range of emotions, ‘Sourire’ is a kaleidoscopic album with many sides & reflects. If you like adventures this is for you.
*sourire in french

01.Kiki (1:17)
02.Marie Meow (3:38)
03.Sleep Away (2:46)
04.Marble State Fair (5:44)
05.Toledo, Oh (6:46) (4:29)
07.Mentally Strong, Morally Week (25:33)

music written, recorded, mixed and mastered by Julien Magot in Paris (autumn 2012)
artwork by Romain Barbot, cover by Douanier Rousseau



Cette fin d’année apporte son lot d’albums qu’on n’attendait pas/plus et qui se révèlent être déjà en haut de nos charts annuels. On peut glisser celui d’Appalache dans le lot. Plus tôt dans l’année, Fue, son précédent EP, nous avait permis de placer le projet de Julien Magot en haut de notre liste des trucs à voir live. Sourire confirme et, pour être honnête, s’éloigne de cette scène post-rock désertique saturée avec l’émergence de Barn Owl. Le chant fait son apparition et les compositions deviennent plus concises, sèches, et nous rappellent parfois les débuts de Crystal Stilts. – Hartzine

Settling somewhere between the sweet, saccharine melancholy of Johnny Hawaii, the swampy-synth-trips of artists like Sun Araw and High Wolf comes this little gem from French labels Bookmaker Records and BLWBCK Records. But that’s just the beginning… Like Hands In The Dark Records circa Death and Vanilla, this could well be the little gem that deservedly propels both labels into the subconscious of a greater many right minded musical heads. Fusing melancholic, jangly, (sometimes down tuned) psych pop/garage pop with reverberating passages of tribal drumming – expansive passages of universal drift fill many of the voids until the latter part of Toledo, Oh walks through some beautiful, fuzzy blues at the albums half way point. Finger picked acoustics also find a home here but for the most part it’s an instrumental album of all these varying styles. Early on there’s some distant vocal – aimed more at enhancing the ambient mood than at conveying a direct message, meaning or association with its subject, which I can honestly say, I haven’t a clue about. But does it matter? Not a bit… What I can tell you though is that Appalache is the moniker of French soloist Julien Magot. On to the hazy, swampy, tropical vibe… It’s beautifully fused with a shamanic, mantric one too, rearing its head(dress) on album closer Mentally Strong, Morally Weak – at least for the first quarter of its 25 minute reign. Anything with a shaker gets my vote, I’m a sucker for that rattle snake sound… Mentally Strong, Morrally Weak is probably a sentiment many can associate with and it’s disparate styles often feel like the push me pull you chaos of the good versus the evil – the right from the wrong – the only common denominator being the persons head where all this confusion is being played out. It’s a beautiful track indeed. It’s hard to genre-ize this album so why bother. It’s right up there in parts with the scuzzy guitar sounds of Cough Cool, the loner-surf-guitar styling of Johnny Hawaii and the sun dappled synths that Sun Araw and High Wolf are producing. Dig those? Then you’ll dig this. At 50 mins, it’s an album that feels much shorter, even with half of that running time taken up with a single track and that’s a good thing. There’s enough going on here to keep even the most agitated listener entertained. It’s great too that so late in the year, labels are still pushing the boundaries with mind-bending sounds when many are already tucking into the mince pies and lazily compiling pointless end of year lists and best of compilations. None of you saw this one coming?! Bookmaker / BLWBCK have launched an album that’s sure to be on repeat well into 2013. – Marc Roberts for Foxy Digitalis

A dual release from French labels BLWBCK (cassette) and Bookmaker Records (CD), Sourire is Julien Magot’s second album as Appalache and it reveals a less focused, more freewheeling side to the French artist’s music. There has always been an air of unrest to Magot’s work. Fue, this album’s predecessor, was recorded on the back of a year-long journey of discovery that took the artist to a variety of far-flung locations and it was influenced duly: his time in the desert is blurrily reflected in dusty Morricone drones, for example, and spiritual experiences at ancient Hebrew sacrifice sites are channelled through windswept and eerie acoustic guitar ruminations. But Sourire, for a while at least, takes this sonic wanderlust to a new and sometimes startling level. After Kiki – the brief and zany clank of keys that opens the album – comes to an end, Marie Meow pours forth on a childish thrum of guitar so down-tuned it sounds as though the strings are hanging round Magot’s ankles. Immediately you notice he is singing; something he only flirted with on Fue and which presents him here as a kind of Bradford Cox-esque meanderer through ambient jangle pop. Sleep Away is yet another left turn, coming on like a wild garage jam and bringing to mind instantly the work of black leather throwbacks like Dirty Beaches. It’s the sound of rock ‘n’ roll buried beneath its own excessive weight; the ghost of Elvis Presley whispering through cracks in the dry Memphis soil as a radio crackles JAMC on a nearby porch. It’s from this point on that Sourire begins to revert to a more familiar Appalache sound. Two consecutive tracks – Marble State Fair and Toledo, Oh – work to Magot’s established strengths, combining ominous guitar drones with some fairly flashy riffing. Toledo, Oh is particularly stirring, spending its final two minutes in aching electric blues mode and adding yet another layer of intrigue to the album. Its prettiest moment follows, with ’09.18.1989’ being a fragile finger-picked paean to new dawn – the grown-up equivalent of ‘Marie Meow’s excited sugar rush. With hindsight this is where things start to become clear and everything slots into place… Despite all this toing and froing – the sudden jolts between darkness and light, between child’s play and existential mind warp – Sourire hangs together surprisingly well. The tracks seem to have a common goal that only becomes clear when the album enters its climax, and at this point it is possible to break Sourire down into three distinct sections; the playful, genre-straddling naivety of Kiki, Marie Meow and Sleep Away, the collapse into introspection that begins with Marble State Fair and the gradual emergence of new light that occurs with the gorgeous 09.18.1989. All these winding roads eventually lead to Sourire’s colossal closing track, the mesmeric Mentally Strong, Morally Weak. At twenty-five minutes it takes up the entire second side of the tape, is as long as the preceding tracks combined, and performs as a kind of distillation of those disparate ideas. Shifting up through the gears, from a crunch of feet on gravel to ominous spoken word and screeching, hollow strings, it forms an enormous and absorbing piece of art. As it develops you start to recognise details – tiny hints of details – as though they’re returning to you through the mist of a fever dream. Everything Magot has done — including Fue — seems to form a section of this tapestry and it grows magnificently into a crescendo that combines Toledo, Oh’s mountain top blues with Sleep Away’s grunge thrash. It’s a stunning release of energy and something of a master statement; “now you understand”. And right away you want to flick back to the start to work out where it all came from and how it ended up like this. Bookmaker seems to have a knack for albums like this; ones that bring together many constituent strands to eventually complete a neat narrative tangram. The last album of theirs I reviewed was Michael James Tapscott’s fascinating Good Morning Africa, which pulled a similar trick. Now, with Sourire, both they and BLWBCK have another multi-faceted picture puzzle in their respective catalogues. – Steve Dewhurst for Fluid Radio

Appalache resides in three different realms: there’s the first half of the record, the middle brooding section and the final track. Despite their varying attention spans all are somewhat related. The amount of instability in the album is uniform. Sourire can’t seem to really make up its mind. Rather than conform to anything specifically it is a loopy, strange, oddly causal album. Parts of it have a good sense of humor with a deliberately unfocused approach to songwriting. Other aspects include a sense of timelessness: in a way much of this could be from any era. Little of it appears to adhere to a current specific genre. ‘Marie Meow’ is the silly weird happy track. It is full of happiness and sunshine. Drums barely keep time. Vocals are lost, completely indecipherable. Yet it is a calming happy track. ‘Sleep Away’ takes a similar slightly strange, more spent version of early 90s indie rock. This first section is part of Appalache’s attempt to be somewhat poppy. ‘Marble State Fair’ offers up the quiet midsection. Yes it hovers about. Sonically it takes up huge amounts of space. Gone are the vocals. Here Appalache wants to dive further into isolationist territory. For the finale, the epic ‘Mentally Strong, Morally Weak’ it combines every feature into a total freak-out of a track. Vocals return. Elements of Krautrock are on display.Aspects of this bring together folk, rock, and noise. There’s a clear western twang on the tracks, particularly in the middle section of the album, where the tones expand into eternity. Overall it is an oddly endearing gentle album. – Beach Slot (7,9/10)

j’imagine que cela se fera bientôt. Tantôt souriant, tantôt pluvieux, tantôt carrément déglingué, Appalache verse dans le rock indie / post-blues / je m’éclate totalement, et ça fait plaisir de voir un vent de renouveau dans un genre que pourtant à la base je n’apprécie que peu. L’album est un peu retro comme il faut, on y trouve un sacré groove mais n’allez pas croire que c’est du petit rock radio-ready ! Les chansons Kiki ou Marie Meow viennent d’une planète lointaine, je vous le dis ! – Ambient Churches (Top Albums 2012)

Всеки път, в който BLWBCK пуснат нова касета си казвам, че едва ли има начин да е по-странна от предишната и винаги път бъркам. Един от проектите, с които френския лейбъл най-често работи е Appalache, или базираният в Париж Julien Magot. Забелязал съм, че неговата музика е знакова за BLWBCK, защото макар и винаги различна, остава лесно разпознаваема. Самият Julien определя Appalache като комбинация от (post) blues и psychedelic rock. Не знам доколко е нужно картотекирането на подобна свободна музика в каквито и да е стилове, може би на някой би било полезно, но истината е, че в музиката на Appalache има blues, post-rock, та дори ембиънт и дроун. Sourire, който излиза и на диск през Bookmaker Records е за момента най-голямата лудост, която Julien e правил и ако трябва да си призная, слушам го вече два месеца и думите не идват толкова лесно, колкото ми се иска. На пръв поглед песните в албума са нелогично, дори хаотично пръснати. Идеите и звука им не следват някаква осезаема концепция. Първото парче Kiki е дълго едва минута и те потапя в странно позитивна и напълно безумна звукова среда. Marie Meow е почти танцувален, доста забавен, но и плашещ рокенрол. От там нататък парчета влизат в една малко по-позната и обичайна за Appalache естетика, но отново много различни като идеи. Започваш да разбираш, че хаосът в Sourire всъщност е съвсем целенасочен, макар и може би подсъзнателно концептуален. Sleep Away е тоталният ми фаворит в албума, с пристрастяващите си вокали и груув. Marble State Fair е много мелодична и носи меланхоличен post-rock / shoegaze привкус. Toledo, Oh и 09/18/1989 са ambient парчетата в албума, но и двете кулминират по-доста неочакван начин, за да не се почувстваш съвсем привикнал към „логиката“ на Appalache. Без съмненияе най-големият шамар, който Sourire ти удря е Mentally Strong, Morally Week. Със своите почти 26 минути, това е без съмнение най-доброто парче, което Julien е записвал и издавал с Appalache до момента. Сякаш напук на всичко, което си чул в албума досега, музиката става съвсем хомогенна и последователна. Звучи сякаш първите шест парчета са били скици, които имат за цел да те разсеят, за да може Mentally Strong, Morally Week тотално да взриви съзнанието ти с един едновременно lo-fi, но и почти Pink Floyd-ски замах. Единствената липса тук са вокалите, които биха направили парчето още по-искрено и лично, но и така е повече от прекрасно. Представям си колко страхотно би било да се чуе на живо, както и музиката на Julien като цяло. По официални данни през 2012 г. продажбите на касети в света са скочили тройно, с подобни албуми няма и как да е иначе. – Angel S for Rawk’n'Roll