RQTN – Passenger EP

Passenger cover art

Artist RQTN
Album Passenger
Genre Post-Classical, Instrumental
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Label Independent
Release 1 March 2013
Rating: Excellent

I don’t know what it is about the French that makes their atmospherics so coercive and moving. From Alcest to Para One, and from Air to M83, they just keep it coming with transcendent atmosphere and composition. This streak is kept alive by Paris, France’s RQTN. RQTN is solely the handiwork of  Mathieu Artu. Every single sound, every single edit, and mix selection is his decision. While there are plenty of “Bedroom Auteurs” in this world nowadays, with mixed visions and projects, Artu is more than a cut above.  If there is any justice in the world, what we have here is the next phenom soundtrack composer. Although referring to this style of music as post-classical normally feels a bit pompous, here it fits very well. Artu’s arrangements and compositional skills are very impressive. It goes to show that if one is determined enough, one will find a way to do what he loves.

From soaring, lush, populated crescendos to stark, melancholy, dark cloud measures, it is very apt that this album is titled “Passenger,” because we are taken so many places, so skillfully, that it feels like second nature.  Breaking the songs down individually would be a pointless endeavor for me to do, as they are so emotionally rich that my interpretation would be vastly different from anyone else’s, and probably be of novella length as well. Tiny dissonant figures evolve into heart scorching themes, just as the surrounding arrangements evolve into full, passionate, sounds capes.

This project of Mathieu’s is not fly by night either. It’s plain to any listener that he has far from a novice, but the RQTN discography itself is quite deep, with this being the newest of four full length releases, and two eps. As if this doesn’t keep him busy enough, Artu is also the singer and guitarist for a fairly well done indie rock band called Kid North.

I’m assuming that every sound on “Passenger” is made electronically, as it both sounds like it and seems the most logical method. It’s pretty easy to hear that Artu is gifted with a keyboard and programming, as well as overall production and mixing. This release is very pleasing produced, and everything sounds in balance and is well placed. Effects are not oversaturated, lending a fairly non-digital feel to the whole album. My only grievance is that some of the sounds are a bit generic in a medium where almost everything is tweekable. Still, the emphasis on overall composition outweighs this a hundred to one.

I loved the depth of “Passenger.” I find the scope of Mathieu Artu’s work highly admirable, and I look forward to checking out the RQTN back catalogue. Mostly though, I wait for the day where someone gives this man control over a film score and an orchestra to append his palate of sound. Then I will rejoice. – Erich