Bastien Picot is a French singer/songwriter, producer and creative mastermind behind AURUS, a rising electronic music project that specializes in an orchestral-leaning take on electro pop that has drawn comparisons to Nakhane, Woodkid, Peter Gabriel and others.
Picot first garnered attention with the release of 2019’s “The Abettors.” The track, which featured Sandra Nkaké thematically raised awareness of a system that exploited and took the living for granted. Picot followed “The Abettors” with a massive 2020 that included sets at that year’s MaMA Festival and Bars en Trans Festival, opening for Vendredi sur Mer at L’Olympia, and being named a “revelation” of Chantier des Francos.
Building upon a rapidly growing profile across the Francophone world, Picot released his AURUS self-titled debut last June. Last month, I wrote about EP single “Momentum,” a brooding and cinematic track featuring skittering and percussive beats, atmospheric horns and synths and Picot’s plaintive vocals. The end result is a song that sonically meshes house music and contemporary electronic production with a bit of Security-era Peter Gabriel.
Picot’s latest single “AWOL” derives its title from the American military acronym for
Absent Without Leave.” The collaboration with Mathéo Técher continues a run of incredibly cinematic material. Centered around twinkling piano, buzzing bass synths, Picot’s achingly tender vocals, thumping beats and a rousingly anthemic hook “AWOL” — to my ears, at least — reminds me a bit of a mix of Amnesiac-era Radiohead and contemporary alt pop while expressing a deeply vulnerable yearning. Interestingly, as Picot explains he and his collaborator Técher use the expression in a metaphorical sense, to illustrate what they believe is the desertion of our being, as though being barricaded behind shells that we strive to build to camouflage our wounds, cracks and scars. “‘AWOL’ is an Ode to fragility, to the beauty of our imperfections, a fight against the military discipline that we inflict on ourselves to smooth the roughness of our contours but also a call to courage.”
The recently released video for “AWOL” continues a run of mesmerizing visuals: This time two masked dancers expressively dancing — eventually tearing off figurative armor off each other and themselves, exposing their delicate and glowing insides.