Autre Ne Veut – Ego Free Sex Free

anv
Apr 17th, 2013
| posted by: David |

Autre Ne Veut sounds even better live than they do on record. When you’re Arthur Ashin, a 30-year-old with a Masters in psychology, the sort of sound that calls to mind the recent RnB experimentalism of The Weeknd, Miguel and Frank Ocean, and you’re the most buzzed about bloke in the whole bloody blogosphere, that’s not that easy to accomplish. The thing with this sort of music, the sort that boggles the minds of my parents who can realise the merit in Ashin’s awesome, raspy vocals but can’t under(stand) the chopped and screwed synths, broken up drums and seemingly arbitrary snippets of vocal harmonies that underpin it, is that it is not so easy to pull off in person. In person, appearing onstage as part of the University of Pennsylvania’s ‘Spring Fling’, with neither an audience (frat bros, neon girls), a venue (a university quad, 1pm) nor acoustics (see two prior) that are befitting the next big SxSW/Pitchfork/otherwise hip darling, Autre Ne Veut should have floundered. Instead, appearing cap backwards with a dude on drums (plus electronic drum accompaniment), a girl on vocals/keys and a look that yelled unimpressed at all of the aforementioned, Ashin killed it.

Much of it has to do with Ashin’s astounding vocals. On record, these can be dulled by the conventions and constraints of record mixing which require that a voice only sit so high in the mix, only come across so loudly. Live, while the other musical aspects of ‘Ego Free Sex Free’ are reproduced impressively and faithfully, Autre Ne Veut’s vocal line, infused with the angst, agitation and ‘Anxiety’ for which his sophomore album is named, knows no bounds, more growl-like and more refined by turns. At 30 and keeping his pseudonym in order not to dash his chances of becoming a clinical psychologist, Ashin is clearly in tune with the inner workings of his mind. On ‘Ego Free Sex Free’ we get a brief reprieve from the heavy themes that characterise ‘Anxiety’ and instead, alongside Passion Pit-esque chipmunk vocals, a distinctly mature look at sex (a key thematic premise for this blog of late). That main refrain, ‘Ego free sex free’, apparently borrowed from a stranger describing a great night out to a friend on the phone outside ANV’s recording studio, is the most pop-phrased delivery on the track but the catchy melody that underscores it belies the complexity of its message.

There is some suggestion that an ‘ego free sex free’ moment is one completely devoid of the usual trappings that would otherwise make for an anxious night out but that sentiment is subverted by the clearly sensual nature of the musicality behind the track and its often beseeching lyrics (including one of my favourites: ‘I want to be the knight in armor, when you say this is forever’). As much as Brother J alluded to the motivations behind using pseudonyms when he reviewed ANV’s massive single ‘Play By Play‘, Ashin represents a breed of artist who might not readily identify themselves with a name but go so much further still in describing the innermost recesses of their emotional selves. ‘Ego Free Sex Free’, along with much else on ‘Anxiety’, would fail miserably if they weren’t propped up by a singer who has experienced and believes in their messages. Onstage, even playing to a relatively clueless crowd, that connection is hard to mask and makes itself known in a certain intensity of performance. This track is uncomfortable and comforting, sexy and anti-sex, joyous and nervous all at the same time. Autre Ne Veut has mastered the world of contrasts, of passion and of live performance in an amazingly short while. ‘Ego Free Sex Free’ is proof of that, beautifully crafted guilty pleasure without the guilt.

Autre Ne Veut – Ego Free Sex Free

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