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La Societe des Timides à la Parade des Oiseaux - Tranches De Temps Jet? CD (album) cover


La Societe des Timides à la Parade des Oiseaux



4.05 | 5 ratings

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5 stars How wonderful it is to learn of a previously unheard-of band with twenty years of rich musical history. La STPO have managed to avoid detection by our prog rock radars for far too long! Fortunately, it's not too late, as "Tranches de Temps Jeté" - their most recent release at the time of this review - sounds vital and fresh, performed by a band with undwindling enthusiasm and musical momentum.

Stylistically, the album falls on the border between avant-progressive and post-rock in the GY!BE vein. As you'd expect from such a combination, the music is at a considerable intellectual level. Vocals are sung (or more usually proclaimed in a strained, urgent voice) in at least three separate languages - whether this is a reward to polyglots or an attempt to shake you off the album's true concept, it is remarkable.

A great arsenal of varied and unusual instruments are employed to surprising effect, although the standard rock fall-backs still have an important role to play; a good example of this manic approach to instrumentation is the opening track, "I Cuento Blumen" which opens with glassy chimes and drones serving as a backdrop to a brief opening monologue. However, the song soon locks into a fast-paced, stripped down rock affair with a similar acid guitar tone to that found on Mars Volta albums - as the track progresses it grows, evolving into jangling post-guitar rock.

"Cet à-Mort Vibre l'Air" opens strikingly and menacingly - a deep ominous sound crashes against you like the tide, leaving this reviewer expecting a funeral doom metal song to unfold! Instead, the piece is far more abstract (although exactly as creepy as anticipated) and features stringy bass guitar abuse, echoing whispers and distant percussion, both tuned and not - the song doesn't have a discernable pulse for over half its length (shouldn't a Kayo Dot comparison appear here?) but it's hard to complain, as the follow-up "Jeune Fille Devant le Miroir" is an involved avant-rocker deserving of such progressive adjectives as "Beefheartian", "Fantômas-ish" and even "Henry Cow-esque."

Next, we have "L'Intitulé Crème" which is variously clickity-percussive and fluid, with obtusely silly vocals sung over plunging wound bass. Another song that's deliberately misleading and structurally vague, then, but it's short and rewards your patience with a well-timed return to the opening passages. This reviewer is put in mind of an impossible collaboration between Disco Volante-era Mr. Bungle and Gentle Giant at their most meandering (note that this is not necessarily a bad thing) - think "Edge of Twilight" but with some of the langurous beauty stripped out in favour of dada-tic havoc. "The Sounds of the City Seem Not to Disappear" pretends to grab the reins but descends into a glorious rant over semi-improvised avant-rock rumblings - again, Fantômas and Beefheart are your touchstones, but this song is something that grows way past the point of comparisons.

The closer "Lorsque" promises and delivers the furious anti-epic that La STPO have hinted at and snatched away at times during the album. Growing out of a furious zeuhl bass-line, the song is fed energy via guitar and marimba-skree until the delicate drumline is confident enough to unfurl its wings. From here we have Mogwai meeting Isis meeting a group of french surrealists with enough imagination to hijack the proceedings and take it in an unprecented and dizzying direction.

If you enjoyed Kayo Dot's "Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue" and can afford an album right now, don't hesitate to make it "Tranches de Temps Jeté" as it is strikingly similar in places. However, don't let this comparison put you off as there's plenty of fun to be had here, even for a relative newcomer but especially for those of you who like their music challenging, alternatingly dense and spacy and most of all - uncontainably inventive.

laplace | 5/5 |


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