Poté - A Tenous Tale Of Her LP
On “A Tenuous Tale of Her”, Poté (aka Sylvern Mathurin) marks the debut album release for Bonobo’s OUTLIER imprint. A record that’s tough, tender and grand all at once, the connections he’s built along the way speaks to the variety of his influences: with connections from Lisbon’s kuduro-fused Enchufada label, to Benji B and Damon Albarn (who features on single ‘Young Lies’), he’s built a sound that’s packed with ideas and musical touchstones alike.
He’s received boosts across a wide spectrum of supporters, including Annie Mac, MistaJam, Phil Taggart, Nina Las Vegas, TEED, Pierre Kwenders, Jamz Supernova, Laurent Garnier, and Toddla T. He’s been featured in Bonobo’s 2019 ‘fabric presents’ mix, featured on 2019 Africa Express album “EGOLI”, produced remixes for Little Dragon and Gorillaz, and recently performed on Colors Berlin.
Poté’s music has always balanced contrasting impulses. On the one hand, there’s the rhythmic, celebratory music of his Caribbean upbringing, and on the other, there’s his interest in exploratory, emotive songwriting. On this record, he takes that approach in a bolder direction: immersive and atmospheric, it’s a platform for those two sides of his music to strike a fresh dialogue.
Channelled through an imagined theatrical performance with a pre-apocalyptic setting, Poté raises the curtain on a more vulnerable, open side to his music. A storyline of looming disaster runs through many of the tracks: he imagined how different people would react to the news of impending apocalyptic breakdown. It’s a way of upping his musical ambition, and taking a step out of the limelight. “I wanted to write something that can live on stage without me being present,” he says.
Damon Albarn features on ‘Young Lies’, a collaboration which came about through Gorillaz producer Remi Kabaka Jr. "I love it when tunes evolve like this one”, Albarn said of the track.
Elsewhere, he steps into centre stage himself. A case in point is ‘Open Up’, where he reflects on anxiety and isolation. Underscored by a loose, melodic rhythm, he repeats a refrain directed at himself: “Why won’t you open up, open up?” He had spent time reflecting on his own anxieties and mental health issues, and this track is about probing that introspection and his difficulties in reaching out for support.
On ‘Stare’, he muses on the claustrophobia that can come with making music. “No space to breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe,” he sings, expressing the isolation that can come with being a solo musician. It chimes with the paranoid feeling of the record overall, as the apocalyptic theme resonates with his own internal machinations.
Musically, “A Tenuous Tale of Her” builds on the foundation that Poté laid with “Spiral, My Love”, which saw him explore beyond his earlier, club-focused productions, fleshing out the gentler sides to his music. Collaborating with Kojey Radical, Chelou and Alxndr London, he became bolder in using his own vocals, and put greater emphasis on writing melodies. “I think it's just working with other people, and people who actually write songs, and not just producers – that really shaped my ear for melodies and writing,” he says.