Review: L’Avenir – Soir

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A couple of months ago Cold Beats Records announced the fourth album by L’Avenir, titled “Soir“. In terms of aesthetics he’s been consistent but it is not the most pleasing artwork to lay your eyes upon. There’s a certain connection between each of his albums and it is noticeable even though he’s shifted to a more ethereal approach on this release. He’s kept the most interesting elements of his music and developed it into an otherworldly experience – but how that holds up in practice is what you’ll find out – in this latest track-by-track review on Repartiseraren.

The introductory for this album, “Modern World” is excitingly refreshing to hear as it starts off but when the melody is laid down in the song, it gets increasingly mind-numbing. Going from laying a creative and ethereal sound, bouncing from ambient to minimal wave, synth-pop and back again – is simply astonishing. The lyrics hold up well and the dismayed tone of the sound is also an unpleasant reminder of the topic that Jason brings up in this song.

As the song comes to a close, another melody is laid upon the frankly cheesy melody that he decided to delve too much into. This other melody is more in tune with the overall sound and fits the picturesque notion he deliver with the rhythm, drums and occasional synthesizer bravado. Conceptually the song is much better, however it lacks severely in captivating melodies and make it a blunder in terms of the passage between the intro and the outro.

Desert” is way more of a stable track, which in its essence has a great melody and move toward a decent sound. The problem with the song is that it suffers from the opposite of what the first one did, that is the vocals and lyrical content isn’t that good to begin with -but the melodies, rhythm and everything else that carries the atmosphere and develops it into something more are consistently surprising – in a good way. The alarming nature of high-note synthesizers is reminiscent of Person:A.

Another thing must be said about this and that is how the rhythm in the beginning slowly drags the listener into the sound-scape and lets the ambient side of L’Avenir glisten. It is good that the vocals and the lyrics don’t take up much of a space in general and that one can drift away, enjoying the remainder of the music itself and how he professionally crafts what is his own sound.

InThe Stranger” the beats get heavier and more pulsating. There’s an eerie darkness and the synthesizers get to be in the background a lot more, as the vocals and the rhythm are the first and foremost benefiters in this song. The rhythm is simple yet hypnotizing when the base drum resounds and the snare drum hits, a very unchanging atmosphere that relies on what already has been presented in the beginning of it. It’s overall the best sounding tune so far.

As it switches into more ambient settings the further in you get, the melodies layer beautifully upon one another and connect marvelously, inserting that much needed emotional touch which L’Avenir can pull off brilliantly. This is where the transition into “Mirror Men” goes painfully, as they share many of the elements that made “The Stranger” and “Desert” much better then “Modern World“.

WithMirror Men” you can almost hear some of the hints that are so lovable in Drab Majesty, for example. A sound-scape clad in an ethereal form, where smoke sifts through the cracks and give off a mysteriously but huge atmospheric draped in a synth-pop outfit. The melodies are crystal clear and put forth some kind of eerie existentialist but immortal vibe to it. Your body is more then a vessel, it is one metaphysical step closer to god and the divine. The beats have also become more concentrated and punched up, there’s more guts in this song.

Silence Shouts” become more of a standardized song for “Soir” after the aforementioned one. A bridge to something else. But he utilizes the differentiating vocals in this song to create a worthwhile listening experience. The more you get into it the further it develops in the background, together with the constant synthesizer-baseline and then a grandiose section is dropped in – the synthesizers get more brazen and deliver a more confident version of the same song. Hearing the different components go out of their way, some of them in a minuscule fashion, others drift away into complex melodies, is very satisfying.

Then comes a transgression from regular minimal synth and synth-pop, a more electronic body music oriented vibe in “Winter Calls“. If the other songs had a string of sublimity in it – this is when the hammer hits the nail – it is without any mysterious intent and more with a colder touch. Here’s where the concept have been on point with the actual song it self. As the beats stumble more and stutter, the synthesizers are more concentrated then ever. It doesn’t stand and fall with the rhythm and beats, it stands on its own in melodies and general atmosphere.

Now whenOutside” comes on, it hits right at home but there’s something off with the sound, one doesn’t know if it is intentional or if it is the masterer’s fault. We on Repartiseraren have released “Outside (Just Like Home)” on a compilation before this. It sounds a bit different. The melodies should be more apparent then they really are, the beats are too hollow and in front of the atmosphere that should be felt in a different way. It is as if someone activated a drum-machine and had the intentions of making another song, at the same time that L’Avenir made “Outside“. It doesn’t really fit.

It is one of the more serious disappointments on this release. “What Happened To Yesterday” is, however, a great example of the adaptiveness of Jason’s music as it is a pure synth-pop gem. The melodies are central and bring out the soul of the song immaculately. Even though some parts of it ain’t my cup of tea, one can not dismiss it in its entirety. Atmospherically the song is huge and covers more territory then any other on this album. Synthesizers are in the background and foreground without the rhythm or beats interfering in an awkward way. A great addition to a so far alright release.

The songVivet” is more playful in its style and stray away from the seriousness in the music at times, giving it a more ambiguous feeling while listening to it. A very dancefloor-friendly song. Rhythmically it is enchanting and nothing bad could be said about it, it is the embodiment of what L’Avenir tries to say and establish with this release. It is funny how the songs gradually get better, then as they get better it turns for the worse and come back to the greater side where they could’ve stayed in the first place.

Had this album been released in August or September instead, “August” would’ve been the epitome of an outro – the change from summer to fall – for better or worse. A sullen baseline carries the rhythm of sharpened beats that steadily marks the end of “Soir“. Even though you’ve already been given a lot to listen to, it doesn’t end with the outdrawn melodies and simple beats to shut everything down and call it a day, there are bonus tracks and remixes available as well. Let’s take them on.

Interestingly enough, “No Destination (Bonus Track)” is a really experimental gem that should’ve been saved for the b-side instead of one of the other songs. Not to mention “Fault” – which is quite frankly one of the best songs on this release. Even though one gets why “No Destination” doesn’t fit the album, “Fault” could’ve easily outmaneuvered one of the A-Side tracks – because it is really, really great. The fast-paced rhythm, playful synthesizer melodies and overall great, ambitious sound-scape is reason enough.

Denial (Bonus Track)” is also one of those songs that would’ve made it better on the line-up for the original line-up. It has a well-crafted atmosphere and even though it might be a bit more experimental, it is way better and more inspiring then “Moonlight (Bonus Track)“. Experimentalism doesn’t always have to be on the bad side of the spectrum, it could very well be a more enthralling song more fitting on an album such as this.

Remixes, what about them? Well, they’re in most cases hit or miss – oftentimes more a miss. Forever Grey make a reasonably ok attempt at their version of “Mirror Men“, but the original stands much taller and this remix does nothing to stand out on its own, not a memorable attempt either. But there’s something about it that is charming but it is reserved for some parts of the remix only. Since the original song “Outside” was ruined, it is nice to hear the Person:A-remix which deliver some really claustrophobic, minimalistic cold-wave interpretation of the original. He’s managed to pull off a really ominously sounding melody, that make the song less upbeat and more downbeat.

The breakdowns made by Kline Coma Xero on “What Happened To Yesterday” are charming but not enough to be considered great, but it adds a different touch and a whole new version of the original track, that coupled with auto-tuning gives it an experimental electronic and electro-ish vibe. MAKiNA GiRGiR‘s rework of  the same song almost makes it a chiptune tribute, one of the best remixes on this album for sure. They have a really minimalistic approach and it becomes a song on its own, ready to stand by itself in the atmosphere they’ve created and especially the melodies.

When the song “Silent Shouts” get the remix treatment by Nina Belief, it unfortunately falls on its own into the category of uninspiring. Had the beats matched the tempo better and her vocals as well, it might’ve been an off-shoot into something different and more alluring. This is most definitely a miss in terms of the remixes. The remix of “The Stranger” by Lola Kumtus is not anything interesting either, unfortunately. It just rehashes the song and makes it more cloudy, repetitive and basic.

So this is what I think of this album. In terms of the overall quality the record is not the best L’Avenir can do but it is worth listening to, since it contains a few really great songs and some that are not as great. You can listen to the album in full down below and if you like it, you can order a double-CD or a vinyl as well from Cold Beats Records.

 

 

Review: Various Artists – Artificial Selections

a3207601573_10More then a week ago, a new compilation emerged out of the alternative underground. A compilation that caught people off guard because of the beautiful representation of cold-wave, post-punk and experimental selections – including a wider variation of genres. Featuring both unrepresented artists and those who are not. First off are Excuses, the solo-project by Matthew Rowe whose debut was put out on the now defunct label Function Operate, back in 2012. This self-titled release featured five songs but his contribution to the compilation was with the track “We Are Fuel“. It is a raw track which lets a dodgy atmosphere with shoegaze fill out the sound-scape, together with the ambivalent riffing you’d only find within darker post-punk. Although his vocals on this song isn’t up to par with the rest of the landscape of sound, it is held up by the general mood that he delivers with sincerity. I just wish it was coupled with a better vocal representation because right now it sounds too cheesy. But I must say that it is a good opener which sets the bar for the rest of the compilation higher up.

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Chondritic Spotlight: Klinikal Skum and Fejhed! [Part II]

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These are the earlier releases from Chondritic Sound. Since these releases, including Sissy Spacek and Jason Lescalleet’s VHS-release, there’s a lot more coming. But since I haven’t written about Klinikal Skum and Fejhed, I am about to do that right now. What’s interesting about these two releases and specifically one of them – is that both of them are dribbling in experimental territory – whilst one is wrought upon the grounds that Puce Mary stands on, with a part of Hoax (the crusty and dark punk band). You’re right, Frederikke Hoffmaier of Puce Mary fame have teamed up with Jesse Sanes of Hoax. They’re creating a regurgitated landscape of sound which can be found within the confinements of “Persona” – the latest release on the Danish label Posh Isolation, by Frederikke. But what is equally as interesting is how these confinements are diluted with this duo. There isn’t really any borders for how horrid and claustrophobic a noise-act can be. When it comes to Klinikal Skum, his sound-scapes are long and dampen from the suggestiveness of his exploration into the human psyche. From the delusional nature of humanity and what kind of psychosis lay hidden beneath the shallow appearance of so-called “sane” human beings. These are the two bands that I will delve into in this edition of the Chondritic Spotlight, which might actually be the last one.

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Ryan Oppermann. Klinikal Skum. Two different names that coincide with one another, one his real name and the other his pseudonym or alter-ego (if you prefer). Released his first album in 2005 on the label Ghost King, then aptly titled “Pulsating” – a word that can be pinned to his music now as well. Besides having started this project back then, he’s indulged into aliases as: Fabbrico Incubo, Neuntöter Der Plage, Post-Mortem Junkie, Redrot, Xombie and groups by the name of; All Bells Grounded, Aram Chaos, Black Lace Drag, Narcoleptic Ward, Rust Owl, S.P., Some Larval Dream About Smothering, Unveiling Asylums and maybe even more that I am not aware of. The similarity between these groups are his fascination of genres like power electronics, noise, industrial, ambient and whatnot. Add experimental in front of these labels and you might pinpoint where he’s been heading to. Besides that, he’s also kept busy with his own label Skeletone which have almost only released material with his different aliases as authors of it.

Now I’m here to describe his latest release under the name of Klinikal Skum. This particular release; “Negativ Psykotelepathi Surveillanz” was put out by Chondritic Sound back in May of this year and is actually some of the more disturbing blend of experimental industrial and power electronics that I have heard. It is sickening and almost unbearable to listen to and feels clinical in the way you wouldn’t want it to be. I feel like I’m visiting a morgue as a dead body and experiencing the wide-range of tools that Ryan Oppermann is going to use to dissect me. That is one of the more insane thoughts that have entered into my mind after listening through this album. What is more horrid than being exposed to this ecstatic wasteland of normal human dignity is to hear the complexity of the music he delivers – as it is actually well-thought out and that is probably the most scary part about it.  It could serve as a blueprint for how you’re supposed to enter a state of mind which we rarely, if ever, encounter in the real world. This is the kind of music that bring it upon us. I can actually offer a free download of the track “Dizeaze Blotter“, which is the track I find to be the best on this album.

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Frederikke Hoffmeier + Jesse Sanes = Fejhed. In Danish, the word “fejhed” translates into “cowardice” in English. It actually translates well into the name of some of the titles, like “Sorry“, “Silence” and “Drinking Spit“, for example. But when it comes to what they conjure together, it feels like might is right and that you’re stuck in a situation with someone whose might is above what you can say or do, a situation which you try to pathetically cower out of. Everything from the freaky atmosphere that lumbers on whereas Jesse and Frederikke take turns to shower you in pure filth. Feel your own disintegration as you fade away from this horrid reality that you have been forced into. This album of theirs is self-titled and is actually the first release under this duo’s name. I’m more than eager to just turn it off before it gives me a headache or any thoughts in my head that shouldn’t really be there. When it comes to the genres they mix in together it could be some kind of minimal wave nonsense blended into the harshness of “normal” noise, but it also feels experimental in the fact that they utilize the unorthodoxy of beats, rhythms and the general sense of an atmosphere, as you travel through a horror-show. I’m not sure if I could describe it any other than just that so you will have to check it out for yourself. All I can bring to the table is a free download of the track “Sorry“, which is the one I felt had the best overall feeling to it and that I really like. You can stream it down below, and this is the end of the spotlight.