The new single from the forthcoming MASTON with L’ECLAIR Souvenir album, which will be released on 10th September
Quote from Maston about the song:
“‘Swiss Franc’ is the last song on the album and the song we close the live show with. The light and dark elements give it a nice sense of balance – like a discotheque dirge. The video was made using some analogue video synthesisers, blended with a swiss franc coin which I modelled and animated. It’s one of my favourite tracks on the record and is very emblematic of my relationship and musical collaboration with L’Eclair, hence the title.”
In 2018, composer/producer Frank Maston was living in Paris, working on new music when he was introduced to Geneva based band L’Eclair. Blown away by what he heard, there seemed to be a mutual understanding and appreciation for that loungey, groovy world of library and soundtrack music from the ’70s. An immediate thought occurred to him – what if he could record with this simpatico group backing him up? The result is the colourful and kinetic album Souvenir.
For some background – Maston released his debut album, Shadows, in 2013, and moved from his native LA to Amsterdam for a several year stint sitting in with Dutch musician Jacco Gardner’s band. It was during this period that Maston wrote and recorded his second album Tulips (2017). Influenced by European film and library music, the largely instrumental Tulips was released to critical acclaim, garnering comparisons to Ennio Morricone, Sven Libaek, and Piero Umiliani. The record was accompanied by several 16mm films directed by Maston, and the LP’s limited private press release on his own Phonos- cope label has become highly sought after among crate diggers and collectors alike.
Following Tulips, he began producing and mixing records for other artists, including his collaboration with Pedrum Siadatian (Allah-Las) as PAINT, whose first two LPs were produced and recorded by Frank. In April 2021 Maston released his third album, Panorama, on the legendary library music label KPM, bringing his soundtrack influences full circle and firmly cementing himself as a contemporary composer.
Frank is always looking forward while aware of everything he’s already done, and in that regard, Souvenir fits nicely into his oeuvre. He’s an auteur in the truest sense of the word, always looking to break new ground while still having it fit neatly into an overall body of work. Souvenir achieves all of those things, and it also reaffirms Maston’s reputation as a producer of quality. It’s a hi-fi masterpiece, compact at eight songs and touching on everything from Italian soundtrack music, lounge jazz, light prog, and even a.m. pop balladry (with Maston’s first vocal turns since his debut). The overarching theme of this project was to do things differently, and with Maston having recorded and performed his previous albums completely alone, the first move was to try the complete opposite.
To fulfill his vision for a lively, full-band effort on Souvenir, Maston enlisted L’Eclair. Hailed by Frank himself as the “greatest living band”, L’Eclair is a young quintet from Geneva, Switzerland, consisting of Stefan Lilov (guitar), Elie Ghersinu (bass), Yavor Lilov (drums), Sébastien Bui (keyboards), and Alain Sandri (percussion). The group’s first two albums, Polymood and Sauropoda had gained them high praise in Europe’s underground circles for their air tight grooves and wise-beyond-their-years chops. Maston’s introduction to L’Eclair was through Dutch engineer and friend Jasper Geluk, who had recorded LEclair’s debut, as well as Altin Gün’s catalogue. Upon first listen, the wheels in Frank’s head began to turn. Perhaps this was the like-minded group Maston had been looking for.
After meeting Stefan and Sebastien at a PAINT show in Switzerland, the idea for the collaboration was pitched and unanimously approved. That January, Maston made his way to Geneva for a few days of rehearsals, with the whole group then travelling to Tone Boutique in Holland to record with Geluk the following week. Souvenir was recorded over three days, from February 3-6th 2019, live to tape.
Album standout ‘Ghost’ is a classic prog-pop stomp, built around a pulsing rhythm section, bouncy organ, and Maston’s lilting vocals. He invites you to take another dose and disappear – “Your chance ain’t comin’ around again for a million years” – he sings, and we believe him. On the ballad ‘Do You Feel It Working’ Frank repeats the title, which serves as a personal mantra. As this meditation slowly builds, we see L’Eclair shine as they strike a perfect balance- complimenting Maston’s vocals, while holding down the groove and bubbling up at just the right moments. ‘Swiss Franc’ is a slow motion dark disco dirge – oozing uneasy harpsichord until the clouds part for the euphoric chorus, only to slide back down in time for the bass synth to drop. It’s a pensive closer to a dynamic and colorful record, covering a lot of ground stylistically while staying focused sonically.
There’s an intentional raw edge to Souvenir that was maybe less apparent on earlier Maston projects. He’s a constant tinkerer, a perfectionist willing to spend hours in the studio fiddling over a particular sound. With a band waiting for his direction, though, Maston removed that luxury from the equation. “Not being able to necessarily go back and change things wasn’t easy, but the tradeoff was immeasurably worth it.” Perhaps the desire to endlessly tweak will never leave Mastonhe is a producer, after allbut on Souvenir, spontaneity leads the way. You have to respect a musician willing to leave his comfort zone and try something new. The result is an album as unpredictable as it is flawlessly executed, a delightful and deliriously joyous new project born from an ambitious idea, pursued to perfection.