It may seem strange for an instrumental site to be interested in lyrics, but the primarily instrumental Parisian collective Oiseaux-Tempête has always been political, and today’s political climate is more charged than ever. How would they react on their new album? With world-weary anger and resolute determination. “Electrique Résistance” starts with a street speech: “I don’t think we should’ve just … uh, use the peaceful way to protest. I think we should f*ck things up big time.” And while AL-‘AN ! الآن (And your night is your shadow — a fairy-tale piece of land to make our dreams) ~ how’s that for a post-rock title? ~ never veers into anarchy, it certainly bleeds echoes of the teeming masses. Sirens and footsteps paint the edges; citizens argue and yell; the guitars weep, wail and scream. In this immigration-paranoid era, one might even consider the presence of Arabic words and songs to be a political statement.
But must it always be this way? Must we veer to the right, to protectionism, isolationism, xenophobia? Ironically, despite its measured anger and barely veiled cynicism, the collective settles on a hopeful note. What exists must fall to make way for better conditions, they seem to say, the reversed hands of prayer from the cover of their debut album balanced by the lovely spiritual chants of “Carnaval.” And G.W. Sok (returning from Ütopiya?‘s “On Living”) offers a powerful lament on “Through the Speech of Stars”, which at 17:29 does nothing to dissuade us from those now-ubiquitous GY!BE comparisons. But first, there’s a welcome post-rock build, followed by aggressive riffs, the sound of street protests, and the world’s saddest guitar. Sok steps in as if to comment from the outer world, yet his words reveal an inner world. The text, extracted from Mahmoud Darwish’s “Red Indian’s Penultimate Speech to the White Man”, lands on the hopeful phrase, “we’ll emerge”, implying a better era; and although this better era precedes us, the hope is that it might come around again. “Let’s give the earth enough time to tell the whole truth about you and us,” cries Sok as the guitars begin to surge once more, linking history, politics and romance in a single sentence.
So yes ~ this instrumental site is interested in what Oiseaux-Tempête has to say, but more importantly, how they say it ~ with or without words, but with grace, energy, creativity and perseverance, worthy traits to possess in this or any world, no matter what the climate. (Richard Allen)
Release date: 14 April