This Montreal EP sounds different than it looks, but given the world’s recent fascination with zombies, one can hardly begrudge the visuals. If we had only seen the titles (“Early Mornings”, “Boredom”, “Tree”) and heard the music (a lovely blend of bells, beats and drones), we might have thought, “oh, folktronica!” But that cover is hard to ignore. The music sings, “summer, sweetness, joy!” while the cover screams “autumn, decay, death!” The gentle “Early Mornings” offers a slow awakening by contrasting piano, harpsichord (or piano guts) and cymbal; but the accompanying video seems to portray an undead woman waking up in a high rise apartment. It’s spooky and beautiful all at once. Claudia Chan Tak’s dancing brings to mind Masako Yasumoko’s performance in World’s End Girlfriend’s “Les Enfants du Paradis” in that horror and grace are intermingled; it’s not often that we see such a combination carried out so well. We’d love to see more such work from Alexandre Labbé, and Le Poisson d’Argent still has five more songs up for grabs.
World’s End Girlfriend also makes an apt comparison due to the rapid-fire beats and occasional classical influences. Teebs also comes to mind, due to the twinkling chimes mixed into Le Poisson d’Argent’s electronics. “Tree” establishes its percussive patterns early, then adds synth textures that override the drone. “Where the Dogs Run Wild” swirls about like a stroller filled with bouncing balls and metal toys, conveying a mood akin to that of early múm. But the title track is the main attraction; since the title is in all caps, it’s clear that the artist is aware of its worth. “YOUTH” begins with vinyl crackle and sampled strings, caught in a groove but swiftly liberated. Drone enters first, then drums, and soon the heavily textured piece enters the realm of the dance floor. At 132 b.p.m.s, it’s begging to be taken for a test drive. A thick bass tone adds a touch of menace, but is balanced by high-pitched sparkles that hover in the air like ecstatic fireflies. When the track returns to the beginning, it offers a sense of completion; this is one of the most accomplished beat-driven tracks of the summer, even without a remix. An EP is not enough; we want more. (Richard Allen)