[Reviewed by Damiano Lanzi]
The first, eponymous album by Oiseaux-Tempête, dated 2013, had impressed me not only for its eclectic musical style, but most of all for its documentary-like development. They teamed up with French photographer Stéphane C. to document the economical and political crisis that was at the time reaching its peak in Greece. This collective showed a programmatic intention of not just making music, but being at the same time a complete visual, artistic, conceptual and even political project, despite making most of all instrumental music. Their will is to not be categorized merely as a “band”; this is as clear as the sun and it reflects on their musical output, that is hardly categorizable itself. I find it a very modern approach to music and maybe the only possible one in the field of post-rock or art-rock in order to create something innovative.
On their second album (not counting the good “Re-Works”, a collection of remixes from the debut full length), the interplay between the musicians has grown incredibly, and what in the beginning could appear like a “supergroup” at some point, with some artificial and abstract aspects, has now became a compact and powerful ensemble. The core of the lineup remains the trio formed by Frédéric D. Oberland, Stéphane Pigneul (FareWell Poetry, Le Réveil des Tropiques) and Ben Mc Connell (Beach House, Au Revoir Simone, Marissa Nadler) with the addition of Gareth Davis on bass clarinet. The contribution of Davis and his unusual instrument is essential in songs as “Someone Must Shout We’ll Build the Pyramids” and “Soudain le Ciel”, giving a mysterious, elusive feel to the sound. This perfectly working alchemy has probably been tested on stage, as is demonstrated by the bonus track, the 22-minute long live recording of “Palindrome Series”, and this had positive results in the studio. “ÜTOPIYA?” sounds much more spontaneous than its predecessor; here it seems that the numerous inspirations behind Oiseaux-Tempête are channeled in the most direct and effective way into the musical output, claiming that “urgence” that is often cited to describe them. This time their journey reaches Turkey and then Sicily, spawning all over the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The field recordings that can be found all over the album accurately define the concept of travel, the ever changing landscapes and ethnic background of every song, adding fluency and authenticity to the material. Even a cell phone speaker interference can be heard at the beginning of “Aslan Sütü”. In “Portals of Tomorrow” the sampled speech in the first part becomes structural both on a rhythmic and thematic level. G. W. Sok of The Ex contributes with guest vocals on the second track “Ütopiya/On Living”, providing a reading (with some melodic accents) of an intense ecological message. Another notable moment is the poignant “Requiem for Tony”, where the choir pads, the melancholic strings and the granitic drumming provide a cinematic intensity that would be appropriate in a ‘60s spaghetti western movie, or “Yallah Karga (Dance Song)”, where some production tricks are used to give a distant FM radio like sound. The quality of the material is unquestionable and already from the first track “Omen: Divided we Fall” and its dull toms, exotic feel and oriental guitar phrases, it’s clear that they have now found their accomplished expressive format: the soundtrack for a spectacular journey, punctuated by sparse aural memories and nostalgic images.