Last year, Chastagnol teamed up with Igorr—another ingenious, perhaps better-known breakcore artist from France—for a grandiose EP of dizzying proportions. Between Igorr's love of metal and sampled absurdities and Chastagnol's classical, folk, jazz and operatic palette, Maigre struck gold. You could say it was the definitive record of the year for a genre that has continued to fiercely prove its endurance. And Balloon is further testament to this.
The first release on Berlin-Valencia "anything goes" label Kaometry, Balloon features all the familiar tropes Ruby My Dear fans have been drip-fed from the likes of Peace Off, Acroplane Recordings and Ad Noiseam. These elements are most eloquent on the EP's dreamy bookends, "Hat And Beard" and "Peanuts On Train." The former is like a carefully orchestrated Grimm fairy tale, at once creepy, twisted and magical. It's got incredible poise, too, fostered by plucked notes, airy zinging elements and a starry-night melody. It's all fragile and delicate, nothing like breakcore's usual sensory bludgeoning, and a total standout for it.
"Peanuts On Train" has a similar sense of lightness: the breaks bubble and percolate through a bed of mellow chords. "No Smoke" does the same, but its mood is sad and sullen under the digital drum barrage. "Nour" is just lovely, with rich pads swirling around the clamour like smoke trails. There's also a nice classical mid-section, which amplifies the level of musicality Chastagnol likes to drop into his compositions now and again. Essentially, if you don't know breakcore but want to, Balloon an excellent place to start.