Rewind: Télépopmusik—“Breathe”

By Anu Guraya

Thirteen years ago my dad adopted a box of CDs someone didn’t want anymore that included a CD enclosed in a square black paper sleeve (the only other CD I remember from that box is Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” CD single — also a classic). Télépopmusik’s “Breathe”, the first track off of their debut album Genetic World, is the only track I recall from this Nettwerk compilation album, and it’s decided to greet my ears every so often throughout my time growing up.

The first second establishes a baseline that complements Angela McKulskey’s humanly-android voice to which sparkles chime in behind. Electronic grains of sand are shaken until you’re hit with two boops and everything collapses inwards, creating a funnel that sucks you in, with her melancholy OS voice keeping you at ease along your descent.

As a kid this song induced a weird trance in me; this collection of sounds was fascinatingly hypnotic and continues to be. The track was always mellowly optimistic, until I listened to the lyrics of the first 20 seconds and processed the inflection of her sighs throughout the song (if you also skipped over the first 20 seconds of lyrics because you were captivated by the accompanying sounds, you’ll also figure it out by listening to the entire album and stumbling upon the outro of “Love Can Damage Your Health”). Despite that, the beeps and boops of this song will always remind me of a time when I was intrigued by sounds seeping through our living room speakers, creeping into my mind.

The rest of Genetic World is a jazzy, trip-hoppy, housey mélange recognizably influenced by the likes of Air, Massive Attack, and even Blur on “Let’s Go Again”. Genetic World’s effect is much like the views people have of the GMO-wheat featured as its album art: some are OK with it and will consume its products; some have celiac disease and avoid it; some are opposed to it and won’t touch it; and some are opposed to it but if it were unknowingly fed to them, they wouldn’t be able to differentiate. I’ll pick and choose from time to time, experiencing varying degrees of enjoyment.

Editor’s Note: a previous version of this article included an incorrect link which led to a different version of the song than the one specified by the author. The correction has been made.

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