V/A Je Suis Un Etranger
By Marcus Pan
Now here's a truly
interesting idea and concept. Ronda Records, a label out of France, has sent
off digital language samples to a number of bands worldwide and invited them to
build on these ideas to create a song utilizing numerous languages of
the world. The banner was taken up by quite a number of drum 'n bass, techno,
industrial and surrealist artists and the added bonus of such a concept makes
Je Suis Un Etranger much more interesting than its separate parts.
Mils is given Polonais, and creates Nouka which takes
a futuristic drum 'n bass style to create a cut-up Burroughsian dreamscape.
With bright bell like melodies and synth-slams adding to a growing and
rivetingly interesting beat laden mix-up of sound, Mils does an excellent job
at starting off the concept of Je Suis Un Etranger. dDamages take
on Allemand samples in Verstehe Ich Nicht is swiftly moving with very
high-octave keys that overshadows the language samples given. The other-worldly
effect is brilliant while Verstehe Ich Nicht can hover just shy of
becoming annoying and retains a bright edge that slices rhythms like a hot
knife through brain matter.
Suedois(1) goes to Transbeauce for their creation of
Sven. Their attempt comes off a bit flat when thrown up against the
previous two opening tracks, and delves a bit deeper into consciousness to
achieve a subtler sound and effect. It doesnt move as swiftly as the
previous two and serves more as a chill out in the midst of the madness.
lucky.Rs take on Portugais, Fonte Nova, becomes an ambient
nightmare slowing Je Suis Un Etranger down to a crawl. I know plenty of
people who will dig this track hardcore, but Im not much. When lucky.R
slides in a heavy handed drum n bass it begins to move more ploddingly
along and lets off samples of sound that seem too noisy to be musical.
Aka_bondage take Hongrois for their track Kivalo Dolgozo
Vagyok and begin a strange romp into a bright and fluffy dreamscape with
pulses of chords interspersed with playing children, occasional robots and
buzzing silence. It doesnt try hard enough. Sun Plexus + Loner duo up to
drum out some Albanais language in Grua Telefonoj Tre Derri. Its
experimental, minimal and pretty nice rhythmically. I certainly didnt
expect that sudden phone ringing, which splices through the track unexpectedly
and is what eventually brings us the language were expecting given the
idea of Je Suis Un Etranger. Very interesting track even if it does plod
on longer than its due.
The language of Anglais goes to Silencio, who use it to
create the ambient minimalism that is Tumbleweed. The added piano that
arrives later spices up the track but doesnt steal from its background
style. The track itself is very comforting and builds a nice, relaxing
environment. Dscls Mais Faites la Taire reminds me of cut-up vocal
work by Perpetual Ocean(2) or Thou Shalt Not(3) using Francais as its language
of choice. Unimpressive, no music has been applied here and they just cut up
the vocal tracks and kind of glued them back together to create an annoyingly
Japanese goes to Xerak, and their Arigato Tokyo
Jogging is a surreal conglomeration of strange strummings, vocal patches
and funkily weird beat rhythms. I have to say that, so far, nothing else on
Je Suis Un Etranger even comes close to Mils and dDamages opening
tracks, though Arigato Tokyo Jogging makes a strong attempt, though
their language sample usage can get downright silly in its choice and
placement. The ending alone makes you want to choke the shit out of Xerak.
We move into a surreal rhythm with c.h.districts
Speller using Russe as its language base. It gets futuristically
synthetic and adds a very outworldly atmosphere to the disc. An exotic track
and not by any means bad. c.h.district really fucks around with the vocal
samples here. Very weird. Depaties Men Fall using Breton language
samples applies an interesting soundscape thrown against a drum roll military
style beat. Interesting
but not for this long. The growth of the
synthesizers comes in a too little too late style so Im
Chinois is used in Displacers One More Tune. A
nicely moving fat-back drum beat meets me at the door and later moves into a
swiftly moving trance style track with outlying synth washes keeping the rhythm
front and center. Then Frying Carpet Arab Remix, by Do Shaska! and using
Arabe language samples opens with me going, Oh no another cut the
language to shreds and call it music, but at least picks up into a
musical pace with a low lying rhythm and over the top Arabian influenced wind
(clarinet or oboe?). Doesnt hold my interest for too long, however.
With a band name like Bleetch, I have to wonder if its
ok to play the next track without doing something that sounds like the
bands name. Taking Norvegien for Teach Me How, Bleetch create a
nice ambient background. seb.R take their Vietnamien and put out
Neimateiv, creating an interesting track with nice click-based rhythms
and smooth strumming stylings. Hypo & Musicometre close the disc with their
take on Neerlandais languages in Een Brief Voor Kersmis. Comes off like
a badly mixed background track of radio static. Blah.
An interesting disc, Je Suis Un Etranger, containing
a mixed bag of results. A third here are great, another third palatable and the
latter third can be done without, but the concept of the album as a whole is
refreshingly brilliant. This would be a nice addition to any avant gardes
collection and can really push the bar of originality of even the staunchest
Rue Alexadre Parodi, 75010 Paris, France
(1) I admit I really dont know what all these
languages are. Polonais, sure
Suedois? No clue.
Perpetual Oceans Houdini was reviewed in Legends #113.
(3) Thou Shalt Nots cut-up vocal
style can be found on their self-titled release which was
reviewed in Legends #102.