Foudre! – Magnum Chaos


[Reviewed by stark]

During my recent holiday, I listened a lot to “Utopiya”, a new, excellent album by Oiseaux-Tempête. Saåad is obviously first class of ambient and has been with me in one form or another for a long time now. Both extraordinary bands, but musically somewhat distant, at least within the underground circles. But what would happen if they collided? How wildly twisted a hybrid could the result of such an unusual marriage be?

It turns out that you don’t have to look too far for the answer, the key is the nicely sounding French word “foudre” (“lightning”). The name of the strange collaboration of three musicians connected with the aforementioned projects (in a ratio of 2 to 1 in favor of Saåad) who got together one time and with whiskey and cigars at hand they initiated their music equipment and began to record what was whirling in their souls live, without preparation. I’m making this up alright, but listening to the “Magnum Chaos” tape, I have in my head the image of such a session during which this not very long material was produced.

Badalamenti and Vangelis covered in dust and gravel. The first two compositions, “Oracle” and “Cellarius” raised this peculiar comparison. The first one sounds like a kind of “Twin Peaks” in the European dream reality. “Calvaire” by Fabrice du Welz is a good point of reference. Raw ambient textures with time become more and more schizophrenic at certain moments, even alluding to old horror movies of the late 50s and 60s. “Cellarius” also contains sounds that accompanied a charming vintage horror with guys in sheets pretending to be ghosts, but the atmosphere itself is warmer, sometimes almost serene. Among other things thanks to its vangelis-esque synth sounds though subtly treated with distortion effect, not as much so that we can talk about violating the legend of the old Greek, but enough to avoid the sometimes slightly sugary sound that he occasionally offered (not that I dislike Vangelis). Thus ends side A.

After turning the cassette to the other side, the disturbing “Vestigia Pedis” welcomes the listener. This piece gets dangerously close to the dark ambient manner in some moments, although slight post-rock echoes try to make their presence known here and there. Space shade lo-fi, this is how I would define “First Exit”, a minimalist composition on a severe drone and simple, monotonous, analog-sounding melody. And “Vajra” at the end, which is like a bit more complex version of its predecessor.

I have the impression that the recording did not require special effort from the musicians. It sounds like the result of spontaneous improvisation which was later put on tape, without processing, although James Plotkin himself is noted as a person responsible for mastering. The sound is firmly rooted in the lo-fi spirit, often you’ll notice that this or that passage is more a coincidence than a conscious decision. Something will creak here, something will click there, in other moments a bit too loud of an effect will flick your ear. But that’s the whole charm of this slightly uncouth production. Standing in opposition to the overpolished ones that lose on authenticity. And to me – both as a listener and a beginning musician – the attitude presented by these three nice French artists comes closer. Therefore, gentlemen, I give you the thumbs up.

Foudre!Magnum Chaos
MC 2015


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