Honolulu / Saigon

Knekelhuis • 2023

Laurène Exposito has a soft spot for cassettes. She has released several EPs in this format on her own label, Waving Hands Records, while albums on vinyl have appeared on the Dutch imprint Knekelhuis. »Honolulu / Saigon« now bridges the gap between the medium and artistic expression: the twelve tracks include previously unreleased material as well as material previously released on tape. The melancholy »La Croquis De La Femme«, for example, dates from 2016 and was released at the same time as the follow-up »La Mort De La Maîtresse«—blurring the lines between album and archive compilation. But it doesn’t really matter, because Exposito’s endearingly imperfect, minimalist sound is captivating throughout all of her creative phases. Soaring melodies such as those on the aforementioned tracks alternate with truly emotional songs such as »Put Down«, on which the Frenchwoman’s vocals echo from the depths of the mix. Its nonchalance is reminiscent of Deux, for example, although EYE derives its pop character and catchiness less from the chanson than from the instrumental passages. The beauty of the gems she extracts from her hardware lies in the emotionality that each track evokes, no matter how seemingly simple. Melancholic tracks such as »Bad Jazz«, which is being released for the first time, should be listened to to the end as a matter of course. Skipping them would just feel wrong. The big exception is »Your Face Is A Picture«, where an acid line gathers momentum and forces you to the floor.