Duñe & Crayon Reinvent Post-Genre with Transcendent Album, 'Hundred Fifty Roses'
Evan Dale // June 12, 2020
Paris’s Roche Musique is an Independent creative label founded in 2012; rooted in one of modern music’s most unique renaissance leanings. With the likes of FKJ, Darius, Crayon, and Duñe to their name, Roche Musique are curatedly, artistically changing the cloth of music’s experimental future. Their artists hone myriad musical skillsets – all of them being multi-instrumentalists, producers, mixers, DJ’s, and vocalists to varying degrees of mastery and preferential direction. Yet, not one of them sounds like another. As Roche Musique quickly approach a decade of unparalleled risks taken and creative mosaics painted, their newest signee, Duñe – with one of their longstanding transcendentalists, Crayon – have quietly released one of 2020’s most intriguing albums, Hundred Fifty Roses.
For Crayon, transcendent masterpieces are so commonplace in his extensive canon, that they’ve become the only thing expected from his releases. In 2018, the French multi-instrumentalist, producer, and vocalist parlayed a few years as one of electrofunk and dreamwave’s most original sounds into a project, Post Blue, unlike anything heard from he or any else before him. The project, founded on instrumentation, brimming with melodic poignancy to an unavoidably danceable tune, was one of 2018’s most keystone, experimental, underrated projects. To this day, it serves is a grandiose exhibition of the possibilities in merging hip-hop, neo-soul, funk, jazz, and electronic when the right contemporary auteur stands behind the curtain of it all.
But the journey of Hundred Fifty Roses starts long before that. In 2016, Crayon and Duñe hosted their first collaborative effort. The self-titled project (Duñe x Crayon) was a short but sweet precursor to the unpredictable soundscapes both artistes would go on to paint for the foreseeable future. Through the last six months or so, they’ve been reunited by the tethers of the French underground’s limelight, releasing single after vivid single that put into perspective exactly how little they were willing to hold back in their embarkment towards another renaissance moment in transcendental music’s twisting storyline. Needless to say, Hundred Fifty Roses is worth every thorn stuck into the side of the pre-established artistic norm. There are no lines to be drawn – except perhaps back to Roche Musique – who once again prove their ear for the new sounds that will one day become signature, subsists omnipotent.
Before even listening, a list of features present Hundred Fifty Roses with a welcome mix of names new and old. Instrumentalist, producer, vocalist, and acrylic painter, Lossapardo; Parisian rapper and poet, Gracy Hopkins make their respective return(s) both in collaboration with Crayon and to the transcendent Parisian scene of musical futurists. Aurélie Saada, PH Trigano, Swing, and Ichon – whose mark is left with his bout of prose on leading single, Pointless – round out the list of names less known by the metrics of prior canonical work with either Duñe or Crayon. Needless to say, the returning veterans and the newcomers alike are all hand-picked with depth of thought and experimental creative nuance.
From its broadest viewpoint, Hundred Fifty Roses breathes a poignant air. Call it soulful melancholy; call it the French perspective, but whatever it is, Duñe and Crayon use it to drive vivid, relatable emotion into their aesthetic. And around that axis, the rest of their sound experiments wildly, never settling in a sonic space, but never removed from the subtlety of fine-tuned emotionality.
The project opens with Save Yourself First, the most recent in a train of leading singles – expressly funky, instrumentally groovy, and yet primed for any occasion through its unending mellowness. And from the template of Save Yourself First, one hundred percent of the Hundred Fifty Roses can be described with a similar delineation. There seems to exist a joint fluidity between the two protagonists. Each underlined by their remarkable ability to do so much more with a simple swatch of less, Duñe and Crayon denote their music with raw aesthetics so intertwined and complimentary to one another’s skillset, yet so removed from any other artist come to mind in the contemporary cloth. Their music is unendingly complex in its simplicity; pushed forward by its integration of any and every pre-existing musical styling; tethered akin by their collaborative prowess as a groundbreaking stylistically freed duo.
Lossapardo’s additions to Slowdiving breathe of its title, drowning a listener in emotive, wavy vocalism that feels as though its being made opaque by the miniscule mirk unavoidable in even the clearest water. It’s an indie-soul oriented explosion brought to life by the acrylic soundscape of the irreplicable Parisian artiste.
The always transcendent, unpredictable aesthetic of Gracy Hopkins makes itself wide-rangingly felt through two differing features on the album. Your Fruit is a romantic neo-soul anthem, thriving in its raw, minimally produced imperfection. The rapper-singer shines as a featuring vocalist, seamlessly hitting notes and driving upbeat romanticism into an album that’s title alone begs for such emotional expanses. And though Vicious Cycle again sees Hopkins exhibiting his under-explored voice, it brings to mind memories of his feature on Crayon’s 2018 Post Blue, Faith. Blessed with a natural sound that is most relatable to Frank Ocean, Vicious Cycle is a standout track for Hopkins, for Duñe & Crayon, and for Hundred Fifty Roses, tethering akin broadstrokes stylistic explorations with an unmistakably smooth joining between funk and instrumental R&B.
Aurélie Saada’s French poeticism and crystalline vocals on Invisible tether akin pop and electronic nuance. Ichon pulls together lyrically inclined hip-hop with funk & rock on Pointless. And PH Trigano & Swing make Ps the most vocally mellow, productively outspoken track throughout all of Hundred Fifty Roses.
And even given the brash expanse of musicality, and the even wider scope that all the featuring artists bring to the album, its direction is never in question, held steady by the experimental yet grounded framework of Duñe & Crayon’s established collaborative relationship. Defined by instrumentally raw, productively minimal, emotional maximalist musicality and tone, Hundred Fifty Roses emerges not an exploration of a style, but a thesis on the French post-genre era – made possible by the underlying genius of Roche Musique. That inadherence to preconceived labeling while still honing a signature sound speaks to nothing of not creative inventiveness and the invention of a new type of creativity for a new cultural order.