Jeremy Keens, Ampersand Etcetera, no 2002_7, 20 mai 2002

The evil face embedded in the doodlish ghoulish cover illustration by Guy Boutin juxtaposed with Sophie Dowse gentle watercolours on the inner sleeve is somewhat suggestive of direction, and is furthered by the Anthony Burgess quote (which is the only part of the extensive liner notes in English) about “two kingdoms… the eternal and luminous one of the divine lord’s own making, and the noisome stinking pit of pain and horror… of god’s enemy.” Within those notes “fragilité… construction de tension… danger… source des textures” all support the impression gained from the cover and delivered by the music.

Aimé Dontigny and Érick d’Orion, morceaux_de_machines, create some of the hardest ambient-noise I’ve heard recently, teetering between the pit of despond and the beautiful city. I thought cut-up would be the end of me – there is an on-going click-pop “melody” which sounds like the soundtrack to a sci-fi battle with choppy cd/tape samples below (either some rap of just aggressive people). As it continues, there is a surprising melodic aspect and a shattered stability. The disconcert continues in multivisión espacial with more rapid pops shoots bloops plips and more over samples, which sound like jazz with guitar flute etc. As time passes the aural assault continues, sharp needles of sounds, more noises, and eventually the surface noises become a merged buzz of sounds, brief dropouts, voices in there, to a quieter final minute.

When you think it will all be overwhelming, lo-fi soundscape eases the impact a little, with lighter whizzy surfaces over piano and sax, again easing to a quieter end. Or spencer’s percussive bursts melded with loose-cable crackle, all echoed slower and quite visceral. Voice pulses enter, it builds and distorts, and then there is a reverbed voice briefly talking to us (an unexpected directness) before a big layered end. And we are caught quite unaware by the lightness of prime shake: gentle pips and burrs, like a computer control room, soft rhythms and crackles, a distant tone melody: the crackle builds, it is all dense restraint into a percussive end.

métal scrap is well named as a scraping melody weaves through crackles drums and building noises over a soft solid bed, joined by a voice – possibly Hitler or a Dada-esque speech, hard to say – solid and directed. The squeaks clicks and soft tone pulses that open rothko are almost pastoral, electro-frogs, a slow echo-drum running through and slight increased density and pace, the samply-jump behind providing subtle noise, a little more desperate to the end before a crackle-pop fade. The final track digisex swings back to the more oppositional strategy, here a degraded distant pop sample provides some vocals and a rhythm, the bleeps and peeps over increase, subsumed by a soft and rumbly futz – a sort of bolero – and all breaks down again in the last minutes.

The beginning of this album threw me onto the back foot, and seemed all noise and aggression, but as I listened through it and on replay I actually warmed to it. m_d_m do achieve the straddling of the inferno and paradise suggested in the notes, creating a surprising and satisfying combination of electro-noise with subtler elements weaving through. Intriguing.

morceaux_de_machines create some of the hardest ambient-noise I’ve heard recently… a surprising and satisfying combination of electro-noise with subtler elements weaving through. Intriguing.