review

Textura

Three:four Records' first wholly Swiss record pools the considerable talents of Bio (composer and guitarist Julien Baillod), Larkian (Lausanne-based guitarist Cyril Monnard), and Les Poissons Autistes (multi-instrumentalists Philippe Simon and Stéphane Babey). The collaboration developed via file exchange from their respective home bases, with the result a fifty-minute recording that touches down in multiple experimental zones, from electro-acoustic soundsculpting to dirges, ambient drones, and post-rock. The most striking thing about the recording is how cohesive it sounds—not something one would expect from a recording that brings together three separate outfits. It would be easy to imagine individual tracks gravitating in the direction of each group, as if each was the primary creative force behind one or two of the pieces. But there's no such discordance here; the results are so unified the four contributors might just as well have newly christened themselves with a single moniker. A cursory scan of their respective bios suggests how their group sound comes to be so complementary: Baillod, having gone through post-rock and jazz-punk phases, currently focuses on the electronic avant-garde; aided by real-time loop-samplers and effect processors, Monnard uses his guitar as a sound generator; and Simon and Babey use field recordings, guitar, bass, trumpet, cello, and piano to create their digitally altered pieces.

Their collaboration straddles analogue and electronic worlds in that natural instruments are regularly heard—the aforesaid guitar, trumpet, cello, and piano among them—but also are looped and subjected to laptop manipulations. Though electric guitars and piano are the sole instruments listed for "Vous faites vraiment trop chier," for instance, the track's electro-acoustic sound-world expands beyond what one would expect from those instruments, especially when its guitar fragments flutter so incessantly about the hazy flow the musicians generate. In one setting, chiming guitar figures meld into hypnotic patterns against a towering backdrop of vaporous textures ("L'éteignoir à filles"), while another is a hazy drone that writhes and howls for seven mutating minutes ("Si j'étais chez vous, je partirais"). Simon's electric bass acts as the lead voice during the dark ambient doomscaping of "La chaussette vide," while "Le garçon qui ferait plaisir à maman" augments the tremolo shudder of Monnard's electric guitar and moan of Babey's cello with a plodding backdrop speckled with Baillod's crackle and feedback in a way that suggests the piece could work perfectly well as a part of a modern film noir soundtrack. But the standout track is the final one, "Le kiki dans l'eau froide," which slowly grows into a seething guitar-fueled crescendo of incredible force. Hearing the waves of guitar swarm swell to such an awesome pitch is a marvel to behold. A few more moments like it would have raised this already very good album to an even higher plane.