Review: Petit Biscuit's 'Presence' is swaying electronic pop

Updated 11/9/2017 12:39 PM
  • This cover image released by Petit Biscuit shows "Presence," a release by Petit Biscuit. (Petit Biscuit Music via AP)

    This cover image released by Petit Biscuit shows "Presence," a release by Petit Biscuit. (Petit Biscuit Music via AP) Associated Press

Petit Biscuit, "Presence" (Petit Biscuit Music)

Petit Biscuit is an accurate pseudonym for Mehdi Benjelloun, nearly 18, of French and Moroccan heritage and the precocious creator of precious electronic pop.

"Presence" is the follow-up to a very successful self-titled 2015 EP containing the hit "Sunset Lover," also included here.

As the album cover illustrates, Petit Biscuit's perspectives and inspirations are linked mainly to places beyond the blue sky, reflected in tracks like "Creation Comes Alive," ''Beam," ''Forever Being" and "Gravitation."

Petit Biscuit enjoys using "vocal chops," cutting up, pitch-shifting and repeating words and syllables in lieu of lyrics, creating something that may approximate a language but is used instead as a rhythm or sound effect. This is particularly effective on "Beam," where chops sounding half like an Oriental tongue and half like dolphin tones help a violin carry the haunting melody.

When lyrics appear, it's usually as a vehicle for guests like Norway's Lido on "Problems," Panama (from Australia, actually) on "Waterfall" and the talents of Manchester's Bipolar Sunshine and Brooklyn-based Cautious Clay (those names!) on "Wake Up."

Songs such as "Oceans" include an acoustic guitar and natural-sounding percussion, but the grooves contain more electricity than anything else, even if of a kinder, gentler type.

Though there are snippets of dance beats here and there - "Problems," ''Waterfall," the title track - Petit Biscuit's arrangements are bound to produce more gently sways and hugs than dance floor maneuvers.

The universe may be endless but the atmospheric hues and tones of Petit Biscuit's meandrous music is a genial companion for however far your exploration goes.

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