For its second album, Agar Agar pulls out all the stops

Singer Clara Cappagli (left) and keyboardist Armand Bultheel, characters from the video game interconnected with their album.

Of course, it remains to “integrate cutscenes”, “debug the programs”, “chain the playtests”… And the final version of the project (like its sale) will probably not see the light of day before September 2023. But, on January 20, the game designer Jonathan Coryn and the Parisian electro-pop duo Agar Agar are about to succeed in their bet: to offer, on the day of the release of Player No Playerthe second album designed by singer Clara Cappagli and keyboardist Armand Bultheel, an immersive experience in a video game of the same name, inspired by the band’s music as much as it has become impregnated with this virtual world.

Even in mode early access (for preview tests of an incomplete version of the game) on the Steam platform, one should perceive the interconnection between the heady refrains of Agar Agar and video game narrations, anchored like them in a digital melancholy.

A visual as well as musical revelation

The complicity of the two musicians and the game developer dates back to their attendance at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Arts (ENSA) in Paris-Cergy, in the early 2010s. Before devoting himself fully to synthetic pop with his friend from class, passionate about sculpture, Armand Bultheel was passionate about video art. A consequence of his addiction to computer games practiced since childhood.

“Getting to know the experience of space through the flat surface of the screen is comparable to walking inside a painting”, assures the gamer by speaking of a visual revelation as much as musical. “From the age of 10, the original soundtracks for these games introduced me to electronic music. They are inseparable from the universes in which we enter. explains the one who, like the singer of the group, prefers games of wandering and contemplation (Myst, Journey…) to the frenzy of arcade games.

At the Beaux-Arts, the man-machine of Agar Agar, marked as much by the avant-garde electro of the Warp label (Autechre, Aphex Twin, LFO…) as by the soundtracks of games composed by Richard Vreeland, alias Disasterpeace, had also designed several video game projects. “One of them proposed a succession of portals in a sinister office, that impressed me”, remembers Jonathan Coryn. ” The year after [l’ENSA], Armand specialized in sound and music and I went from studying 3D images to creating video games. »

A creative runaway

The trio stayed in touch. “I very quickly recognized myself in the music of Agar Agar, says Jonathan Coryn. This rhythmic euphoria tinged with sweetness and despair. It sounded like what I wanted to do visually and in my storytelling. » A collaborative project naturally took shape. “We started talking about it before the release of our first album, The Dog and the Future [2018]remembers Clara Cappagli. First it was to be an interactive clip to be completed in a month, then a mobile app. »

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