Joni Void – Mise En Abyme

Jean Cousin's sophomore album as Joni Void, Mise En Abyme is a lot to unravel, but that disentanglement is its own reward

Album Review by Aidan Reynolds | 29 Mar 2019
  • Joni Void – Mise En Abyme
Album title: Mise En Abyme
Artist: Joni Void
Label: Constellation
Release date: 29 Mar

On Mise En Abyme, his second album for Constellation, Joni Void breaks moments into lifetimes. Jean Cousin’s 2017 debut Selfless was impatient in its quest for resolution, but here he curls inward and dwells on the minutiae. While continuing to draw on wordless vocal samples and cut-up ghost harmonies, Cousin’s tick-tock beats retreat to enhance the human element, making for an unexpectedly contemplative collection.

The record divides loosely into three sections: the first is introspective, where the voice takes centre stage on tracks like Dysfunctional Helper and Lov-ender, which somehow recall Jan Švankmajer’s 1988 film Alice, Amon Tobin’s found sound work on ISAM and Radiohead’s Amnesiac. The second section announces the ascendancy of the digital, as telephone static and dial-up tones blend with oppressive layers of unintelligible voicemails on No Reply, while Cinetrauma attacks the listener with cracked, angular rhythms.

The final third draws these disparate elements together, beginning with the angry confessional of Deep Impression. ‘Started from the void / And I’m still fucking stuck here’ Cousin spits through his female voice assistant; ‘Whatever you think of this song / It’s absolutely wrong'. The palate clears with the beautifully desolate Persistence, before final track Resolve collapses in on itself, stealing samples from every song that preceded it.

Mise En Abyme is a lot to unravel, but that disentanglement is its own reward. Cousin has plundered his experiences to create a yearning LP that nevertheless feels welcoming (and, more importantly, honest) every step of the way.

Listen to: Lov-ender, Cinetrauma, Persistence