It figures that Sigh
would receive the honour of being the first full-length release on Nicolas Jaar's new Other People label - aside from last year's Psychic
, of course. One cannot help but think of Valentin Stip's debut as a sort of lesser Space Is Only Noise
. Throughout the record's hour-long runtime, Stip utilizes practically the same water motifs, ambient flourishes and slo-mo house beats as Jaar did on his own debut. The difference, however, is that Sigh
is definitely less quirky than Space...
, and as a result, the album kind of lacks a face of its own.
Aside from this perhaps unfair comparison, though, Stip's debut is certainly a great listen. Especially during its first, understated half, where the songs maintain a weird kind of status quo, the young producer manages to effectively utilize his sparse samples to hypnotizing effect. After a trio of introductory tracks that gradually build off of one another, 'Correlation' picks up the pace and releases the tension that was slumbering in the background the whole time. It's a wonderful little centerpiece.
On the latter half, Stip really lets his classical education shine through, when he dusts off his piano playing. In recent years, the juxtaposition of computer-generated sounds and traditional instruments has been explored more than ever, and the interplay between the two doesn't disappoint here. In particular, the intimate 'Regards sur l'Enfance (I et II)' delightfully combines its serene main melody with strange kitchen-sink percussion. It's the sort of track that effortlessly can get engrained in anyone's head.
When the title track plays out its last notes, though, most of Sigh
is unfortunately already forgotten. Therefore, it's really an in-the-moment type of album: Valentin Stip's debut is very enjoyable while it lasts and a strong showcase for his composing skills, but doesn't have actual staying power because of its lack of uniqueness and originality.