French duo ‘ascendant vierge’ fuse techno, avant-pop, and angelic vocals on debut album “Une Nouvelle Chance”
Story by Alexia Hill
Photo by Sergio De Rezende
Listening to music in another language is a transcending experience. I don’t understand some of, or in most cases, all of the lyrics, but the pure musicality, the emotion in an artist’s voice, can be enough to discover new music that you love and that feels timeless. ascendant vierge’s new album, “Une Nouvelle Chance,” is exactly that and more.
The French duo consisting of Producer Paul Seul and Vocalist Mathilde Fernandez make up what is the beautiful chaos of ascendant vierge. Both have previous expertise in the industry, including Seul’s Parisian musical collective, Casual Grabberz. Ironically, their name stems from the ascendent virgin in astrology, known for its prudence and its very orderly side, juxtaposing the hard-techno, avant-pop fusion sounds of the couple.
Their hit single from 2020, “Influenceur,” put the duo on the map as a popular club song with over 10 million streams. The music video and sound are both hyper-edited in the best way possible, with pop-art and graffiti-style graphics and low exposure shots with lots of blurred movement throughout the video. The beginning of the song has a more robotic monotone, echoed vocal over it, and then it jumps into a more notable sound for them, including opera-like vocals and fast-paced beats. Their fashion throughout the music video can be defined as subversive futurism, accessorized with chains, chrome, chunky jewelry and hardware. The industrial warehouse set allows for a physical space for the video and sound to build throughout the four minutes.
“Influenceur” is just a small taste of ascendant vierge. The same year as “Influenceur,” the pair began working on their debut album, “Une Nouvelle Chance,” which was then released this April 28 with 14 songs. Their sound can be best described as a mix of the upbeat and French funk of L’Impératrice, and the intense rave sounds of hardbass producer, LOBSTA B. However, even this doesn’t fully put into perspective the group’s genre-bending album and experimental, yet carefully-crafted sound.
Beginning with the song “IRL,” the album starts out with a vocal loop which seamlessly transitions into a heavy, dark synthy instrumental. Fernandez’ vocals come in high and strong, rising toward a climax without building unnecessary tension, just the right amount. The album continues in a similar fashion of heavenly vocals and hard-style beats, like the proceeding song, “Dedans.” This song is bass-heavy and I can perfectly visualize it being played in the underground club scene in Europe.
The variety that ascendant vierge brings to their album continues through songs like “Au Top” which starts out with simple piano chords and otherworldly vocals that bring emotion out of you. Then, at only 30 seconds in, drums and intense chanting ballads transition the song completely to a blend of techno and alternative. Despite the language barrier, some roughly translated lyrics from this song that stand out are “I'm dizzy with reality/Who in heaven helps me?”
Other songs on the album like “Ce monde où tu n'existes pas” and “Lubies” have downbeats without feeling melancholic, the latter reminding me of the nostalgic feeling of songs like “Tongue Tied” by Grouplove and the former sounding similar to melodies one could find in a Lana Del Rey song.
A personal favorite off of the album is “aimer sur le long terme” because of how starkly different it is to the rest of the songs, and in some ways even juxtaposingly tame compared to the other tracks. Using guitar and pedal steel guitar, the song starts out almost sounding like a sample, giving a reggae, surf-pop vibe to the song. Fernandez’ vocals are slightly jarring with this genre pairing, but quickly becomes not only digestible but intoxicating to listen to. Added elements like bass and background vocals allow the song to progress and flow, creating a song that you want to have on repeat.
Wrapping up the album are two bonus tracks, “Petit Soldat” live and a remixed, ascendant vierge, or “AV” version of “On a Mountain” by DJ Danny, Danny L Harle. The final track, “On a Mountain,” is the only English-French fusion off the album and could easily be a viral song this summer across the globe with sounds similar to the song “One More Time” by Daft Punk.
“Une Nouvelle Chance” also released a visual megamix that is just as contrasting and dreamily distorted as the music. From quick flaming shots in a tunnel of fire, to more blurred, slowed shots, to Fernandez forlornly staring at the camera in a babydoll dress to warm yellow lighting and both Fernandez and Seul hanging like broken puppets in the air. The megamix ends with both of the musicians digging in the dirt and, presumably, finding themselves and their alter-egos who’ve made this impassioned album.
Album art by Paul Marique
Overall, ascendant vierge’s album is truly a new chance to experiment, discover, learn about yourself and a possibly newfound love for music. Although I personally just started my journey into techno and deep house music, this album takes you through so many different feelings. With the quality production, heavenly haunted vocals and powerfully poetic lyrics, songs range from sounding like a video game soundtrack to an underground rave (picturing the Bratz Pixie fairy rave here) to cruising in your car with friends. Put simply, it’s beautifully universal and worth a listen for any pop, eurodance, electronic, dreamy, music lovers.
Having already worked with Yves Saint-Laurent, plans for an upcoming Boiler Room set on June 10 and tour dates across Europe and North America, ascendant vierge can only continue to rise.