At first, the deep-throated vocalizations and dialogue samples are a curiosity, their necessity not immediately apparent. But after the album is played to its bitter end, all is revealed. These nine pieces represent the Nuit Noir (black night), and serve as impressionistic short stories: shock fiction, if you will. Spoken words may set the stage, but on each track, the Parisian post-rockers rush in to amplify the drama.
Never is this more apparent than on the opening piece, “Narcosis”, which grows and grows until it threatens to break the boundaries of the speakers. “I know that you can hear me,” a woman pleads, implying either a broken relationship or a buried hope; these words repeat in the eighth track. The theme of a woman in peril plays itself out repeatedly over the duration of the album, most poignantly in “Mirrors”, but terrifying in “Nuit Noir”. “If one day the night takes me, will you search for me?” the woman asks in the former. “I need help! Please?” she cries in the latter. One imagines a projector behind the band during their live shows, à la Sontag Shogun; the multi-media possibilities are obvious.
The only drawback to such an approach is also a compliment: the band doesn’t need dialogue. While it’s clearly part of their ethos, the spoken word distracts the listener during the early part of tracks, obscuring the potential lead story: that the band is now incorporating electronics to a greater extent than before, referencing such bands as 65daysofstatic. In pieces such as these, the listener’s attention always shifts to the words; it’s the nature of attention. Bands such as FareWell Poetry use this to their advantage by penning words that are meant to be the focus, but here the dialogue often acts as a curtain that must be swept aside in order to experience the fullness of the band’s heavy sound. To paraphrase: we haven’t really talked about the music: the powerful post-metal riffs that lurk at the center of “Mirrors”, the Cure-like guitars of “Somnipathy”, or the military snares of the nine-minute finale, “Emergence”. This is stadium-level sound, and a theatre may not be the only perfect venue. The final minutes of “Emergence” incorporate brief chants reminiscent of And So I Watch You From Afar, providing another hint at a possible future, but as much as the band may speak or sing, their music remains their strength. (Richard Allen)
Release date: 2 September