It took me a while — I’m talking a couple of months of steady listening — but I was eventually able to make it through the ending of this track without tearing up. “Under the Hood” comes from Mars Red Sky‘s 2016 full-length, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here). The progression of the Bordeaux trio’s third outing nestles it between the crushing roll of “Mindreader” and the free-swinging “Friendly Fire,” but it’s an unmistakable highlight and emotional apex for the record — a wounded love song executed in a heavy psychedelic context. Amid one of the most gorgeous melodies the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras, bassist/backing vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Mathieu “Matgaz” Gazeau have to-date conjured, the impression “Under the Hood” makes is nothing short of stunning and, at least for me, it’s moving enough to get choked up by listening.
I’ve covered these guys a lot in the six years since they released their self-titled debut (review here), and it’s been a thrill to watch them take shape as the progressive, far-reaching outfit they’ve become in that time, but you’ll have to take my word for it when I say I’m singly honored to premiere this video. I genuinely love this song.
Mars Red Sky aren’t wasting any time moving forward from Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul). Though they’ve toured steadily since it came out — including a stop last year in Brooklyn to headline The Obelisk All-Dayer (video here) — and have more dates lined up this Spring and Summer highlighted by Desertfest Berlin and Hellfest, etc., they also announced last month that work has begun on a new experimental single-song EP that will hopefully be ready for issue as we move into the warmer months. The plan as I understand it is a limited, physical-only release, and though it remains to be seen whether or not it will tie into their next long-player the way 2016’s Providence (review here) set the stage for Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul), as a fan of the band, I can’t wait to hear what immersive weirdness they come up with this time around.
More on that when I hear it, and in the meantime, here’s the clip for “Under the Hood,” which adopts footage from 1983’s Chronopolis, followed by Mars Red Sky‘s upcoming live dates and more info off the PR wire.
I hope you enjoy:
Mars Red Sky, “Under the Hood” official video
“Under The Hood” is taken off MARS RED SKY’s third album “APEX III (Praise For The Burning Soul)”, released in February 2016 on Listenable Records. The video was put together and edited by Geoffrey Torres, Jimmy Kinast and Colin Manierka, and features mages from 1983 sci-fi movie “Chronopolis” by Piotr Kamler.
The band also announced the release of a brand new track, coming out in June as a very limited 12’’EP only available through the band’s store. This 19-minute exclusive song was recorded live on analog tape at La Nef in Angoulême.
MARS RED SKY will take the road this spring for an extensive tour across Europe, taking them on the stages of major festivals such as Hellfest and Download Festival France.
MARS RED SKY ON TOUR 08/04 LIEGE (BE) Insert Name Festival 29/04 BERLIN (D) DesertFest Berlin 05/05 CREIL (FR) La Grange à Musique 10/05 DONOSTIA (SP) Dabadaba 11/05 PORTO (PT) Cave 45 12/05 LISBOA (PT) Sabotage Club 13/05 MALAGA (ES) Sala Eventual Music 14/05 MADRID (SP) Wurlitzer Ballroom 03/06 SIZUN (FR) La Bergerie Rock (w/ James Leg) 09/06 PARIS (FR) Download Festival France 15/06 NEUDEGG ALM (AT) Funkenflug Society 17/06 CLISSON (FR) Hellfest Open Air 24/06 BOURLON (FR) Rock In Bourlon 21/07 RIEGSEE (D) Raut Oak Fest 30/07 ALBI (FR) Xtreme Fest 05/08 SAINT-MAURICE-DE-GOURDANS (01) Sylak Open Air
Two songs, 21 minutes. Loops, drones, probably some feedback and… vocals? Interested to hear what Florent Paris has come up with for this latest outing under his Hors Sujet experimentalist moniker. The prolific project has been a source of ambient depth and cinematic soundscaping over the better part of the last decade, and it seems development of new ideas is ongoing, as well as bringing the material into the physical realm. The new EP, dubbed Seuls les Moins Humbles en Hériteront, will be released in a limited edition of 30 signed physical copies on April 24.
Just to reiterate that number: 30. Not very many at all. The two-tracker will of course be posted up on the Hors Sujet Bandcamp as well, so you can keep an eye out for it there, but if you’re a stickler for tangible media like me and think it’s something you might want to have and hold, you should know that your chance to do so will no doubt be fleeting. Like, 30 copies fleeting.
Paris sent the following down the PR wire:
HORS SUJET announces a new EP
The France-based musical project Hors Sujet is proud to announce the release of its new EP, “Seuls les moins humbles en hériteront”. This new EP composed by Florent Paris, states within these 21 minutes of music a new-found confidence: the drone parts of a silent desert with vulnerable vocals and handmade tape loops. The official release will be on April 24th 2017, and the EP will be available on musical platforms (Bandcamp, Spotify, iTunes) and in a physical limited serie of 30 hand-signed copies.
Hors Sujet is the personal and musical project of Florent Paris, mainly fluctuating between post rock, instrumental ambient, drone, doom and experimental. As soon as EPs, albums and live concerts were stated, Hors Sujet started to contribute to a lot of various artistic projects, such as cine-concerts, video live performance, original soundtracks, contemporary dance plays…. Everything is composed, arranged, recorded, edited, mixed and mastered by the only man behind this project.
Improvised music, sound experiments, combining forms, layers, noise, feebacks and landscapes, mostly seeking inspiration in dreamlike frames and visual representations, favoring improvisation and sound research, it’s by combining meticulousness and rough draft that Hors Sujet builds his music and blurs the boundaries between ambient, drone and post-rock.
Posted in Reviews on March 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Feeling groovy heading into Day Two of the Spring 2017 Quarterly Review, and I hope you are as well. Today we dig into a pretty wide variety of whatnots, so make sure you’ve got your head with you as we go, because there are some twists and turns along the way. I mean it. Of all five days in this round, this one might be the most wild, so keep your wits intact. I’m doing my best to do the same, of course, but make no promises in that regard.
Quarterly Review #11-20:
Ulver, The Assassination of Julius Caesar
Norwegian post-everything specialists Ulver have reportedly called The Assassination of Julius Caesar (on House of Mythology) “their pop album,” and while the Nik Turner-inclusive freakout in second cut “Rolling Stone” (that may or may not be him on closer “Comign Home” as well) doesn’t quite fit that mold, the beats underscoring the earlier portion of that track, opener “Nemoralia” and the melodrama of “Southern Gothic” certainly qualify. Frontman/conceptual mastermind Kristoffer Rygg’s voice is oddly suited to this form – he carries emotionally weighted hooks like a melancholy George Michael on the electronically pulsating “Transverberation” and, like most works of pop, shows an obsession with the ephemeral in a slew of cultural references in “1969,” which in no way is likely to be mistaken for the Stooges song of the same name. While “So Falls the World” proves ridiculously catchy, “Coming Home” is about as close as Ulver actually come here to modern pop progression, and the Badalamenti-style low-end and key flourish in “1969” is a smooth touch, much of what’s happening in these eight tracks is still probably too complex to qualify as pop, but The Assassination of Julius Caesar is further proof that Ulver’s scope only grows more boundless as the years pass. The only limits they ever seem to know are the ones they leave behind.
Last year, Louisiana four-piece Forming the Void had the element of surprise working to their advantage when it came to the surprising progressive edge of their debut album, Skyward (review here). Now signed to Argonauta, the eight-song/55-minute follow-up, Relic, doesn’t need it. It finds Forming the Void once again working proggy nuance into big-riffed, spaciously vocalized fare on early cuts “After Earth” and “Endless Road,” but as the massive hook of “Biolazar” demonstrates, the process by which guitarist/vocalist James Marshall, guitarist Shadi Omar Al-Khansa, bassist Luke Baker and drummer Jordan Boyd meld their influences has become more cohesive and more their own. Accordingly, I’m not sure they need the 11-minute closing take on Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” since by then the point is made in the lumber/plunder of “Plumes” and in the more tripped-out “Unto the Smoke” just before, but as indulgences go, it’s a relatively easy one to make. They’re still growing, but doing so quickly, and already they’ve begun to find a niche for themselves between styles that one hopes they’ll continue to explore.
Though it keeps a wash of melodic keys in the background and its approach is resolutely laid back on the whole, “Beautiful Void” is nonetheless a major factor in the overall impression of Hidden Trails’ self-titled debut (on Elektrohasch), as its indie vibe and departure from the psychedelic prog of the first two cuts, “Lancelot” and “Mutations,” marks a major distinguishing factor between this outfit and Hypnos 69, in which the rhythm section of the Belgian trio played previously. “Ricky” goes on to meld acoustic singer-songwriterism and drones together, and “Hands Unfold” has a kind of jazzy bounce, the bassline of Dave Houtmeyers and drumming of Tom Vanlaer providing upbeat groove under Jo Neyskens’ bright guitar lead, but the anticipation of heavy psych/prog never quite leaves after the opening, and that doesn’t seem to be what the band wants to deliver. The sweetly harmonized acid folk of “Leaving Like That” is on a different wavelength, and likewise the alt-rock vibes of “Space Shuffle” and “Come and Play” and the grunge-chilled-out closer “Denser Diamond.” If there’s an issue with Hidden Trails, it’s one of the expectations I’m bringing to it as a listener and a fan of Houtmeyers’ and Vanlaer’s past work, but clearly it’s going to take me a little longer to get over the loss of their prior outfit. Maybe I’m just not ready to move on.
Naturalist vibes pervade immediately from this late-2016 self-titled Svvamp debut (on RidingEasy Records) in the bassline to “Serpent in the Sky,” and in some of the post-Blue Cheer heavy blues sensibility, the Swedish trio bring to mind some of what made early Dirty Streets so glorious. Part of the appeal of Svvamp’s Svvamp, however, is that among the lessons it’s learned from heavy ‘70s rock and from Kadavar‘s own self-titled is to keep it simple. “Fresh Cream” is a resonant blues jam… that lasts two and a half minutes. The bouncing, turning “Oh Girl?” Three. Even the longest of its cuts, the slide-infused “Time,” the subdued roller “Big Rest” and the Marshall Tucker-esque finale “Down by the River,” are under five. This allows the three-piece of Adam Johansson, Henrik Bjorklund and Erik Stahlgren to build significant momentum over the course of their 35-minute run, casting aside pretense in favor of aesthetic cohesion and an organic sensibility all the more impressive for it being their first record. Sweden has not lacked for boogie rock, but even the most relatively raucous moments here, as in the winding “Blue in the Face,” don’t seem overly concerned with what anyone else is up to, and that bodes remarkably well for Svvamp’s future output.
There are few songs ever written that require whoever’s playing them to “bring it” more than MC5’s “Kick out the Jams.” True, it’s been covered many, many times over, but few have done it well. Belgium’s Black Mirrors signal riotous intent by including it as one of the four tracks of their Napalm Records debut EP, Funky Queen, along with the originals “Funky Queen,” “The Mess” and “Canard Vengeur Masqué,” and amid the post-Blues Pills stomp of “The Mess,” the mega-hook of the opening title-track and the more spacious five-plus-minute closer, which works elements of heavy psych into its bluesy push late to welcome effect, “Kick out the Jams” indeed brings a moment of relative cacophony, even if there’s no actual threat of the band losing control behind the powerful vocals of Marcella di Troia. As a first showing, Funky Queen would seem to be a harbinger, but it’s also a purposeful and somewhat calculated sampling of Black Mirrors’ wares, and I wouldn’t expect it to be long before an album follows behind expanding on the ideas presented in these tracks.
No doubt that for some who’d take it on, any words beyond “members of Monarch!” will be superfluous, but Bordeaux three-piece Endless Floods, who do indeed feature bassist/vocalist Stéphane Miollan and drummer Benjamin Sablon from that band, as well as guitarist Simon Bedy, have more to offer than pedigree on their three-song sophomore full-length, II (on Dry Cough vinyl and Breathe Plastic cassette). To wit, 24-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Impasse” rumbles out raw but spacious sludge that, though without keys or a glut of effects, and marked by the buried-deep screaming of Miollan, holds a potent sense of atmosphere so that the two-minute interlude “Passage” doesn’t seem out of place leading into the 19-minute lumber of “Procession,” which breaks shortly before its halfway point to bass-led minimalism in setting up the final build of the record. Slow churning intensity and longform sludge working coherently alongside ambient sensibilities and some genuinely disturbing noise? Yeah, that’ll do nicely. Thanks.
Boasting four eight-plus-minute instrumentals, Couldn’t Handle… The Heavy Jam finds New Jersey trio Tarpit Boogie rife with classic style heavy rock chemistry, bassist John Eager running fills around the dense-toned riffing from guitarist George Pierro as drummer Chris Hawkins propels a surprising thrust on opener “FFF Heavy Jam.” I’ve been a fan of Pierro and Eager’s since we were bandmates a decade ago, so to hear them unfold “Chewbacca Jacket” from its tense opening to its righteously crashing finale is definitely welcome, but the 37-minute offering finds its true reasoning in the swing and shuffle of the eponymous “Tarpit Boogie,” which digs into the very challenge posed by the title – whether or not anyone taking on the album can handle its balance of sonic impact and exploratory feel – inclusive, in this case, of a drum solo that sets a foundation for a moment of Cactus-style rush ahead of a return to the song’s central progression to conclude. They round out with “1992 (Thank You Very Little),” Chevy Chase sample and all, bringing more crashing nod to a massive slowdown that makes it feel like the entire back half of the cut is one big rock finish. And so it is. A well-kept secret of Garden State heavy.
The self-released Dead Seeds, Barren Soil is Horseburner’s second full-length, and it arrived in 2016 from the four-piece some seven years after their 2009 debut, Dirt City. They’ve had a few shorter outings in between, demos and 2013’s Strange Giant EP, but the West Virginia four-piece of Adam Nohe, Chad Ridgway, Jack Thomas and Zach Kaufman seem to be shooting for a definitive statement of intent in the blend of heavy rock and modern, Baroness-style prog that emerges on opener “David” and finds its way into the galloping “Into Black Resolution,” the multi-tiered vocals of “A Newfound Purity” and even the more straight-ahead thrust of “The Soil’s Prayer.” Marked out by the quality of its guitar work and its clearly-plotted course, Dead Seeds, Barren Soil caps with “Eleleth,” which at just under eight minutes draws the heft and the complexity together for a gargantuan finish that does justice to the ground Horseburner just flattened as they left it behind.
Lafayette, Louisiana, five-piece Vermilion Whiskey telegraph participation in the New Wave of Dude Rock to the point of addressing their audience as “boy” in second cut “The Past is Dead,” and from the cartoon cleavage on the cover to the lack of irony between naming the record Spirit of Tradition and putting a song called “The Past is Dead” on it, they sell that well. The Kent Stump-mixed/Tony Reed-mastered six-tracker is the band’s second behind 2013’s 10 South, and basks in dudely, dudely dudeliness; Southern metal born more out of the Nola style than what, say, Wasted Theory are getting up to these days, but that would still fit on a bill with that Delaware outfit. If you think you’re dude enough for a song like “One Night,” hell, maybe you are. Saddle up. Listening to that and the chunky-style riff of closer “Loaded Up,” I feel like I might need hormone therapy to hit that level of may-yun, but yeah. Coherent, well written, tightly performed and heavy. Vermilion Whiskey might as well be hand-issuing dudes invitations to come drink with them, but they make a solid case for doing so.
If the cover art and a song title like “I Swear I’m Not My Thoughts” weren’t enough of a tip-off, there’s a strong undercurrent of the unsettled to Hex Inverter’s second long-player, Revision. The Pennsylvania-based experimentalists utilize a heaping dose of drones to fill out arrangements of keys, guitar and noise that would otherwise be pretty minimal, and vocals come and go in pro- and depressive fashion. Texture proves the key as they embark on the linear centerpiece “Something Else,” with a first verse arriving over a sweetened bassline after four minutes into the total 9:58, and the wash of noise in “Daphne” obscures an avant neo-jazz groove late, so while opener “Cannibal Eyes” basks in foreboding ambience prior to an emotionally-driven and explosive crunch-beat payoff, one never quite knows what to expect next on Revision. That, of course, is essential to the appeal. They find an edge of rock in the aforementioned “I Swear I’m Not My Thoughts,” but as the loops and synth angularity of closer “Fled (Deadverse Mix)” make plain, their intentions speak to something wider than even an umbrella genre.
Okay, so this one apparently came out earlier this month, because apparently it’s late-March, and apparently it’s 2017 and I don’t know about you but I feel like maybe I got stuck mentally somewhere back around 2014 and everything since then has just kind of been a blaze with which I’ve been completely inept at keeping up. Sorry, what were we talking about?
Right. Split. Hangman’s Chair. Greenmachine. France and Japan, respectively. Doom on sludge. Music Fear Satan and Daymare Recordings. Tits and bondage on the cover. Blah on that. Pretty sure those are the basics.
Those of you with tabs on such things might recall Greenmachine are veterans of Man’s Ruin Records once upon a time, which is about as close as a band can come in my book to automatic cred. They’ve split up and reformed a few times since and had an EP out last year. Hangman’s Chair, meanwhile, issued their most recent full-length, This isn’t Supposed to be Positive, back in 2015, and it seems pretty fair to assume it lived up to its title.
The PR wire has release details and a video from Hangman’s Chair. Dive in:
HANGMAN’S CHAIR/GREENMACHINE split VINYL LP, new MUSIC FEAR SATAN release
The new Music Fear Satan release : a split record featuring the heavy weight french doom metal band HANGMAN’S CHAIR and the famous japanese stoner band GREENMACHINE.
“After their last acclaimed full-length record “This is not supposed to be positive” (2015), HANGMAN’S CHAIR is back and teams up with the stoner japanese veterans GREENMACHINE for a split LP. We can easily recognize the HANGMAN’S CHAIR style along their two new songs with this mix of heavy guitar parts and melodic vocals. GREENMACHINE offers us a new long track divided in multiple parts. The split is released on CD via the japanese label Daymare Recordings and on vinyl through Musicfearsatan (700 copies, 300 on pink and 400 on black)”
tracklisting : SIDE A 1. HANGMAN’S CHAIR – give and take 2. HANGMAN’S CHAIR – can’t talk
A new Mars Red Sky EP can only be good news. In the past, short releases like the 2016 Providence EP (review here), 2013’s Be My Guide EP (review here) and their 2012 collaboration with Year of No Light, Green Rune White Totem (discussed here) have provided the Bordeaux, France, trio with the opportunity to conduct sonic experiments that have helped fuel the progression seen across their three (to-date) full-lengths. Most of all, the interaction between Providence and last year’s Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here) was direct and loaded with purpose. Does that mean the same thing will happen this time around? Not necessarily, but if they’re putting together the release as a 15- or 20-minute single-song outing, that means they’re still feeling out new territory, and that’s an excellent sign.
As that comes together, Mars Red Sky continue to support last year’s long-player as well. They’ve got copious festival dates coming up this Spring and Summer, including Desertfest Berlin 2017, Hellfest and Download, and they’ve newly announced shows in Portugal and Spain for May that you can see below.
If that’s not enough, I also hear there’s a video in the works for “Under the Hood” from Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul), so keep an eye out. I’ll be posting that sooner or later once it’s out.
Here’s their update:
Mars Red Sky – New EP is coming with summer – Spain & Portugal Tour
The band is happy to announce they’ve been working well on putting bits and pieces together for what looks to be an epic, spacy 15/20-minute instrumental featuring alien textures, the usual pounding of heavy drums over psych/doomy riffs and most likely complete with the cameo appearance from their loyal Ghost Choir. All that will be committed to tape and pressed on 12” picture disc vinyl, due next summer.
We’ll have a couple of concerts in Spain & Portugal in May ! Take a look at this poster, we will soon have t-shirts with this artwork.
Mar 17 La Ferronnerie Jurançon, France Mar 18 Cosmic Fest Vitoria, Spain Mar 21 Le Bikini Ramonville-St-Agne, France Apr 07 Cluricaume Café Poitiers, France Apr 08 Insert Name Festival Liège, Belgium Apr 29 Desertfest Berlin Berlin, Germany May 05 La Grange à Musique Creil, France Jun 03 Bergerie Rock Sizun, France Jun 09 Download Festival Brétigny-Sur-Orge, France Jun 15 House Of The Holy Lichtenau, Austria Jun 17 Hellfest Clisson, France Jun 24 Rock In Bourlon Bourlon, France Jul 21 Raut-Oak Festival Riegsee, Germany Jul 30 Xtreme Fest Albi, France Aug 05 Sylak Open Air Saint-Maurice-De-Gourdans, France
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Themes of looming threat, wistful emotional longing and self-reflection might not be new ground for French outfit Les Discrets, but if you figured you knew what to expect from Fursy Teyssier and company, the 2016 Virée Nocturne EP (review here) should probably have cured you of that. On April 21, Les Discrets will offer Prédateurs, a follow-up full-length to that short release that features the EP’s title-track among newer cuts, and as Teyssier promises a darker vision, one can only take him at his word. Interesting that he notes twice in the info below about traveling via train, since that seems to be what closer “Lyon – Paris 7h34” directly references — a scheduled departure time.
Will look forward to hearing how this one turns out, but then, I always do when it comes to Les Discrets. If it’s the way you like to roll, preorders are up now from Prophecy Productions, as the PR wire informs:
Les Discrets to Release New Album, ‘Prédateurs’, April 21
Post-Everything Duo Takes Cinematic Sound to “Much Darker” Places on Upcoming LP
Lyon, France dark dreamweavers LES DISCRETS return with Prédateurs, their first full-length album in five years. Ever-evolving, the sound of LES DISCRETS in 2017 takes a stylistic shift which sees the band’s dreamy shoegaze and metallic tinged post-rock colored with a heavy post-punk influence and electronic chill while incorporating inspiration from trip-hop and 70’s film soundtracks. Prédateurs will be released on April 21 via Prophecy Productions (Alcest, DOOL).
Known through his work as part of the bands Alcest and Amesoeurs, French songwriter, singer, multi-instrumentalist, visual artist and film director Fursy Teyssier founded LES DESCRETS in 2003. On the topic of the new album, Fursy comments, “Prédateurs is an album that was five years in the making and will take time to get into. This is a record for late evenings, night driving, journeys on a train, or for those moments we usually think about the meaning of life and things, when we have nothing else to do but sitting and waiting.”
Described as “the soundtrack of a slow film noir happening in a train where the journey leads the auditor to several places seen from the windows”, Prédateurs is a cinematographic, urban album shaped by steel, concrete, snow and electricity. Easy on the ears, Prédateurs interprets the familiar music and melodies of LES DESCRETS with new instruments, approach and ambition. Although its shape has changed, the feeling of the music, its atmosphere and its essential core has remained the same. The songs focus on the concept of predation (the preying of one animal on others) as well as time, nature and life. Prédateurs is the album that – in founder Teyssier’s eyes – now shapes the proper identity of LES DESCRETS.
Prédateurs is not only a new start in terms of music for the band, but also presents a change on the visual level. For the first time, Teyssier – himself a celebrated visual artist and animated film director – has collaborated with an outside graphic designer on the visual appearance of a LES DESCRETS release. The British artist Chris Friel, who combines painting with photography in a unique way, has become a huge inspiration for Fursy. Friel’s work has even subconsciously leaked into the roadmap of the band’s music.
Prédateurs is advanced by the 4-track EP, Virée Nocturne, which was first made available to attendees of last summer’s Prophecy Fest.
“I feel that Les Discrets has its own wings now, free of the influences of post-rock, post-black or post-anything constraints,” he offers. “‘Prédateurs’ is even darker than the older albums. Much, much darker. But just like older albums, some sparks of hope remain.”
Track listing: 1.) Prédateurs 2.) Virée Nocturne 3.) Les Amis de Minuit 4.) Vanishing Beauties 5.) Fleur des Murailles 6.) Le Reproche 7.) Les Jours d’Or 8.) Rue Octavio Mey 9.) The Scent Of Spring (Moonraker) 10.) Lyon – Paris 7h34
[Click play above to hear the premiere of ‘At the Beginning’ from Libido Fuzz’s A Guide into Synesthesia. Album is out next month on Pink Tank Records.]
Bordeaux-based three-piece Libido Fuzz return on Pink Tank Records with A Guide into Synesthesia, their second full-length, and with it set up a linear course running from blazed-out boogie rock to hard-impact psychedelic blues jams. A 41-minute/six-song outing, it follows 2015’s Kaleido Lumo Age (review here) and is no doubt intended to work across a vinyl LP, which is appropriate given the trio of drummer Thibault Guezennec, vocalist/guitarist Pierre-Alexis Mengual and bassist Rory O’Callaghan‘s penchant for classic forms. But even keeping the inevitable split between sides A and B in mind, Libido Fuzz enact a front-to-back flow that seems to push further outward as it goes, until finally it reaches the 12-minute semi-title-track “Guide Me into Synesthesia” at the end and decides there’s no return.
Up to — and really through — that point, Libido Fuzz keep a steady blend of the retro and modern, the terrestrial and the ethereal, the frenetic and the drifting, and what results in the span of the tracks, which were recorded by Marco Lima with a mix and master by Franck Roder, is an organic-feeling and nuanced heavy rock that draws power from its moments of thrust and uses that momentum wisely to carry through its slower parts. It is dynamic in the sense of where Mengual, Guezennec and O’Callaghan take it, from the Radio Moscow-style manias of opener “Sparks” and the intro to “Clouds and Birds,” all blinding turns and risk-laden rhythms, to the smooth-grooving B-side occupants “The Last Psychedelic Blues” and of course, “Guide Me into Synesthesia” itself.
Foremost, it is tied together through the overarching naturalism in the performances. Guezennec‘s bass drum, prominent in the mix, is sometimes responsible for holding an entire song together, as it seems to be doing as “Clouds and Birds” drifts farther from its raging start, but fortunately it proves more than up to the task, and while O’Callaghan‘s warm basslines add a jazzy flair to coincide with all the swing of “At the Beginning,” Mengual takes advantage of the space created to pull out heavy blues-style solos that, regardless of tempo, have a kind of hypnotic effect on the listener. At no point are they technically showy, and the production of A Guide into Synesthesia is clearly geared toward a live feel, but they execute their material with confidence from “Sparks” onward, and indeed they seem well aware of the fires they’re setting, the thrust of that opener creating a sense of movement that is translated into everything that follows, regardless of the actual direction a track like the subsequent “Violence of the Sea” actually follows.
Which obviously is something to mention only for the drastic and immediate turn it represents from A Guide into Synesthesia‘s beginning, the second cut’s bookending progression seeming to nod directly at Trouble‘s “The Tempter” in its structure and layers of harmonized guitar while backing off in a middle third that finds the band stomping through more boogie à la “Sparks,” if perhaps even catchier in the hook. Those twists may well be intended to throw the listener off course, but Libido Fuzz are fluid enough in their transitions that as the drums finish “Violence of the Sea” and “At the Beginning” picks up with a more straightforward heavy rock shuffle, there’s nothing to call incongruous about what they’re doing in terms either of the album’s scope or the jump from one vibe to another.
Synesthesia might be described as a trading of senses. Seeing smells, smelling sounds, touching light, and so on. It’s a rare condition, and the stuff of psychedelic daydreams, and in terms of this album, the keyword in the title would seem to be “guide,” since it gives the impression of Libido Fuzz leading their audience into this place of what might feel like some greater cosmic knowledge. That’s a fair enough explanation for how the second half of the tracklisting plays out, with “Clouds and Birds” (which I actually think is on side A, though I can’t confirm that) marking the point of shift into more ethereal fare that “The Last Psychedelic Blues” — which isn’t — and “Guide Me into Synesthesia” — which is — only continue to expand. Mengual‘s guitar and O’Callaghan‘s bass explore open spaces after settling in post-intro, and samples and cymbal washes from Guezennec lead gradually, fluidly, into a comfortably-paced nod that serves as bed or wah swirl and possibly the album’s best solo, which finishes in time for a big rock ending. Show’s over, everyone go home.
Not nearly. With the finale so expansive afterward, the penultimate “The Last Psychedelic Blues” is tasked somewhat with summarizing A Guide into Synesthesia, and it does so with a play between nigh-on-overwhelming fuzz and airier verse-making. All three players shine. In prime power-trio fashion, Libido Fuzz resonate their chemistry forth until the quiet stretch of guitar sentimentality leads to the beginning of “A Guide into Synesthesia,” the extended instrumental journey that will round out the LP. Its beginning feels suitably like an arrival, and it is, and sure enough, a massive and engaging jam ensues, but the band leave room early on for verses without taking advantage. Maybe live. A scorching midsection solo meets with wah bass and building drums, and from there, Libido Fuzz set the course by which they’ll end, plotted but molten, and cutting just before the 10-minute mark to some far-out guitar noise that may or may not be intended to manifest the synesthetic.
I don’t know how it tastes, but it sounds like a trance, and as an epilogue for A Guide into Synesthesia, it’s the last of several pleasant surprises the album presents while highlighting the overall growth of Libido Fuzz from their debut and giving the impression — on any number of sensory levels — that growth is still in progress and likely to remain that way willfully. One can hear Mengual, O’Callaghan and Guezennec pushing themselves in the realization of these songs, both in the stylistic ground they cover and in the actual performances, and among the many encouraging aspects of A Guide into Synesthesia, it’s that feeling of purpose that most defines it.
“Horizon” is the opening track from Dot Legacy‘s late-2016 second album, To the Others (review here), and it finds the Parisian heavy fuzz enthusiasts embarking on the first of several risks they’ll take across the record’s genre-hopping course. No way around it, there’s a bit of rapping going on here.
Now, as somebody who lived through the ’90s, that’s what we call a big red flag. Hard not to have post-trauma flashbacks of Limp Bizkit covering George Michael in a protest-too-much display of knuckle-dragging tough-guy heteronormativity, but on any level you want to approach it, that’s not what’s happening here, and certainly in the context of To the Others, it’s not where Dot Legacy‘s intentions lie on the Setalight Records release. “Horizon” sets the tone of energy to which the rest of the album soon responds in deeply varied forms, and if anything the rapping in the opener is an immediate communication to listeners that there’s nothing off the table in terms of where they might go.
That’s very much how the record plays out in its wake, and while I’m willing to admit it’s kind of scary to imagine that rap-rocking impulses might one day rear their heads again, I genuinely think we’re safe. It’s gonna be okay.
Dot Legacy — the four-piece of vocalist/bassist Damien Quintard, guitarist/keyboardist/backing vocalist Arnaud Merckling, guitarist/backing vocalist John Defontaine and drummer/backing vocalist Arthur Menard — worked with WIPS (Web Interactive Promotion Site) to put together an interactive video for “Horizon.” If you go to the special site they’ve set up, you can see a version of the clip in which arrows pop up that let you basically choose your own adventure and create the narrative of the video itself.
It’s timed, so you have to pay attention as you make your way through, but it’s actually a pretty cool idea and it’s something special from the band, who’ve already put out clips for “Pioneer” (posted here), “Story of Fame” (posted here) and “211” (posted here) to represent the various sides of To the Others. Something special for a song that has a few surprises of its own up its sleeve.
You can see the regular version of the video premiering below, followed by more info about the interactive project, which also includes a bunch of behind-the-scenes bonus footage and other goodies.
Experience DOT LEGACY’s highly acclaimed single “HORIZON” like never before. On this website you will be constantly creating your own version of the video clip, each time changing the story line, and launching you deeper into the musical space Dot Legacy created for you.
The website also contains amazing access to Bonus material!
– LIVE 360° video of Dot Legacy’s show in Brussels, along with Multi Cam footage – Two fun and crazy interviews of the Band including on 360° candy eating frenzy madness! – An interactive map to follow with personal videos of Dot Legacy in all the cites they played in on their tour with TRUCKFIGTHERS (rated PG 18) – A mixing console to do your OWN MIX of HORIZON! Discover all the seperated track that made this song possible and fuzzy as hell! – The Making of: go behind the curtain and discover how the video clip was shot. Meet the talented team of WIPS!