Await Silent Tristero's Empire (2005, Backporch
Orleans' Chef Menteur specialize in sprawling instrumental freakouts
and ambience while tapping into the Kraut heroes of yesteryear and
Brian Eno's grab-bag of sonic tricks. The band assembled bits and
pieces of found sounds over the last few years, beefing them up
in the studio and have delicately sequenced them into what has become
their debut LP. Backporch Revolution, a well-respected local record
label dealing with all things musically progressive and analog,
wisely released Tristero's Empire in Feb 2005.
There are standout tracks on the album but it would
be an injustice to single them out. 'Caverns of The White Widow'
is 7 minutes of creepy feedback, low-end percussion and sounds pretty
much like what I imagine the bottom of the ocean to emanate, given
I could descend that far and not be pulverized into tiny scraps
of angler fish bait. The heavily Eno-esque "Pointu' rumbles
along on a deep bassline slowly building up tension and could have
easily found its way onto the Lost In Translation soundtrack. Its
sequel 'Pointu II' is basically an identical extension of the theme,
if not a slight bit more strangled and adventurous.
can't help but be intrigued by the wide variety of samples and instruments
used to create We Await Silent Tristero's Empire. Various
synths squeak and squabble. Sitars clang all throughout 'Paysans
de la Mer'. Banjo, handclaps, hootin', sparse acoustic guitar and
field recordings of a nearby neighborhood drive the latter half
of 'W.A.S.T.E.' (now the classic Pynchon references register) before
it's sealed up with a glitchy outro. The album is bookended by the
aptly-titled 'Europa' and 'Io', two of Jupiter's most significant
moons or for you Bullfinch's buffs, notable characters in Greek
mythology. 'Europa' is a patient, yet glorious post-rock epic, not
only serving as a proper introduction but grabbing the listener's
attention immediately and preparing them for the rest of the album.
The closer 'Io' sprawls itself out over 17 minutes, utilizing a
spacious, dirgey drone, not unlike the movie score for 2001:
A Space Odyssey when Captain Bowman ascends to his final(?)
destination. Some may consider this a bore but I most definitely
feel life on this satellite. Stunning.
albums cut of this mold have a tendency to get lost on a listener.
Artists get the urge to pile on the gloss or, inversely, oversimplify
the themes and emotions they are trying to convey by employing staunch
minimalism as a means to perhaps give their music a 'complex' feel.
We Await successfully bridges the gap between these disparate ideals
by leaving just the right amount of secrecy to their mission while
at the same time expounding upon its obvious musical influences
in a classy, not-totally-derivative manner. I can recount several
moments during the album where I was literally surprised at how
gracefully the band formed structure within a song without resorting
to cacophonous noise or clashing time signatures. Fresh, hauntingly
beautiful and truly therapeutic. Hit 'repeat'.
RIYL: Brian Eno, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Boredoms,
Stereolab, Pink Floyd, Can
Grab the song 'W.A.S.T.E.' from the BTID July 2005 mix here
or from the band's website.