Julien Boulier – A Film Not Yet Made (Time Released Sound, 2018)

A Film Not Yet Made

I’ve been intrigued by fragrances lately, dabbling in the world of smells. At first I was compelled by the notion of a “signature scent”, of having something identifiable as me, some collection of aromas that would resonate with my individual character and presence. It’s been an interesting and ongoing journey, and whilst I’ve yet to find “the one”, I’ve been surprised that on multiple occasions I’ve discovered the reverse: scents constructed to evoke a sense of place and not person.

These are not so much scent-memories as artistic fabrications of location, impressions and imaginings, approximations. One of my favourites, “Un Jardin Sur La Nil”, is a sweet, fruity, floral gift, a reflection of some cool Egyptian garden. It’s a fiction of course, an emulation leant to the wearer to transport them (and others) to the place of its design, rather than some exacting distillation of space.

Boulier’s A Film Not Yet Made is a film soundtrack without a film, yet like those perfumes it elicits a response all the same, whisking the listener away into a fantasy world of cinematic loveliness. This is no signature scent, not an OST prescribed to a deliberate set of visual constraints, and that lifting of boundaries makes it an intriguing listen. One begins to imagine scenes of our own for the music, or find life events to suit the tone of these suggestive music-smells.

The sweet delicacy of the piano in “Arcane Septime” sends me walking out in the streets of my home city on an Autumn afternoon for example. Its keystrokes dance and flutter like leaves on pavement, a faint wist in its tone as it prepares for Winter, a bite to the air. It’s quite at odds to precursory “Cordyline Deviant” whose violin strings and terse acoustic pluckings feel strained, like a fretful walk through the forest as sunset approaches: will I make it back to the car before dark? Who knows, there’s pace and soft threat as a result.

There’s dreamy filmic mystery to mid-album “Acanthe Envol”, opening to the roar of a fading plane engine, jetting us off to some foreign and strange land. It fills its time with sweet arpeggiations, harp-like pickings reverberating out into the unknown alongside the croonings of some strange synth, this invitation of alienation into its core. Or how about the enigmatic unwindings of “Accord Etendu”, whose softly rumbling bass lines supplement the tragic piano sparsity above, like being taken on a tour through some tired old medieval home, time bleeding out of the walls and decrepit furniture.

Boulier proffers us cinematic music without visual limitation, and the resulting freedom felt is an unexpected blessing.