Synth-heavy electronic music that’s pure noir but bathed in speckles of neon light is something I treasure deeply. When it seems cold but is, in truth, inherently warm, I love it even more. Enter Paris-based Double Mixte, whose Romance Noire EP is out now via Italians Do It Better.
Double Mixte is an important new act on the label, the storied home of Chromatics, Desire, Glass Candy, and a handful of others. Their debut EP, Romance Noire, released officially this week, is just the latest example of the label’s predilection toward releasing music of earth-shattering quality.
Parisian duo Clara Apolit and Thomas Maan — together with producer and Italians label head Johnny Jewel — have put together a fantastically haunting package of cinematic songs that seem to engage in deep meditations about the nuances of human connections and the fierce grip of the passage of time. The substantive explorations native to French cinema abound in audio form on Romance Noire.
The title cut is a Hi-NRG simmer of electronic atmosphere, club-ready with a pulsation that through sheer will reinforces Apolit’s French-language, spoken-word meditations on the nature of complicated (and perhaps unhealthy) emotions that arise in romantic relationships. The music has a wax and wane that injects a tsunami of suspense and tension to help illustrate the narrative.
For “Arlette,” Maan takes over, using an articulated recitation of smoky French as a light-house in the night, shining a beacon of cherchez-la-femme into the moonlit sky. The electronic palette of the song’s instrumentation recalls some of the more ambient drops of moisture on Jewel’s Digital Rain, paired with the enigmatic sensibilities of his work on Twin Peaks: The Return — although “Arlette” is laden with an even deeper sense of foreboding. There could even be something sinister afoot. The cut is deeply personal and evocative, but also at its core profoundly cinematic. What’s beneath is a groundswell, albeit tempered.
The final cut of Side A, “November,” is where the EP tackles the concurrent excitement and mourning associated with the passage of time. Apolit sings in a way that feels sacred, as she — in English — declares a deep interest in what comes next even as the end is near. The twinkling, fuzzy arps fly around with a kinesis that holds together the string-like pads with a kind of static electricity. The push and pull of emotions over the temporal plane creates a beautiful limbo.
Side B has instrumental versions of “November” and “Arlette,” each of which further reveal the secrets of the musical arrangements. The side also has an “(On Film)” version of “Romance Noire,” that further emphasizes to the intimations of the dark romance.
Overall, the addition of Double Mixte to the Italians Do It Better family is exciting. They bring another aspect of the human condition to the gorgeous and enlightening palette of the influential and fiercely independent record label.
You can buy the record digitally and on CD and 12″ colored vinyl via the Italians store. Or you can stream it through the usual channels. I’d recommend the former.