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|04 December 2017||
Franck Vigroux - Barricades
The name Franck Vigroux a few years ago may have been a mystery to most, but since this highly talented and prolific multi-instrumentalist from France released two records for a Repitch sub-label Cosmo Rhythmatic—2014's Centaure EP and 2015's Peau Froide, Léger Soleil (a collaborative LP with the late Mika Vainio), his name has become known in much wider circles. With an uncompromising approach to production, Barricades is a natural evolution of 2015's Rapport Sur Le Désordre.
Appropriately named, brash and in-your-face opener Countdown squares up in a confrontational style, fully loaded and buzzing with distorted licks, amplified static and buried kicks that batter and bruise, breaking the surface of a screaming wall of noise that harasses throughout—certainly a highly textualized start, the like of which is abundant along the entire duration of the LP. And so, the abuse continues: Concrete Island has a glaring, mean focus, growling and snarling menacingly with angrily buzzing bass distortions, motorized oscillating rhythms that pass from one channel to the other, and once again underpinned by a percussive drive that feels perfectly at ease not being center stage. La Chair is an episode of contrasts, anticipation of an aerial bombardment, mimicry of an helicopter squadron attack, the dread that hangs heavy in the air overhead, paired with intense, almost oppressive, elongated stabs of a mutated organ that exponentially increases the very real sense of doom. Sabotage provides something akin to light relief—or so it seems; it is undeniably playful, none the less we're still a million miles away from easy listening: the off-kilter beats and chord progression has an improvised flow that sits perfectly with twitching, glitched electronics, reminding us of Vigroux's taste for avant-garde—if robots were tasked with performing free jazz it would sound a lot like this. The reflective ambiance on H+ is used to great effect, creating a sparsely populated, yet highly emotive and deeply mournful piece with carefully considered and sparingly used, icy, twinkling FX, haunting keys, and fragmented vocoder work that's reminiscent of that heard in the few opening bars of Tangerines Dream's Bent Cold Sidewalk. Barricades is a ferocious animal that tears through the harsh, droning noise, breakbeaten from the start on a filthy, sludge metal tip, and still with ample room for the murderous introduction of destructive wave compression that bludgeons the track to death in a fashion even Russell Haswell would be proud of. The penultimate track is glacial both in pace and temperature, bringing to mind the inner workings of antiquated robotics; number crunching in the CPU manifests as precision insertions of numerous FX, signals sent to whirring servos, clicking relays, and churning gears, their teeth locking together in a metallic, biting action that makes this slow-motion, electro hip-hop mutation feel circumspect; as if unable to stray from its programming—busy as it may be—Steel is cold and devoid of life. Rosso closes the LP with real purpose: the fluctuating, harmonic melodies have tremendous range, dynamic, high peaks shift to deep, gently rumbling sub bass—a chilling end that'll stir the soul; affecting and arresting, the blackest piece of dark ambient I've heard in some time.
I've been purposely careful not to make the distinction between Vigroux's instruments here, it's a real challenge to pick out where his guitar work ends and the synths take over, he is a master of disguise in that regard, a maverick in the truest sense of the word. This work, clearly isn't distinctly Techno or Electronic or Drone or even Noise, is drawn from a great many elements and will likely be labeled IDM, a much-maligned term I know—but please, don't be put off by this. Indeed, this mercurial Frenchman has injected a much greater level of sophistication here, redefining in quite a profound way what this genre can and possibly should be—bumpy, unnerving and at times foreboding. This is one man's raw documentation of life in these disparate times, the excess of indulgence versus the depression, the suffering, the fear, the depravity, and the squalor, Barricades unleashes a torrent of fury at the inequality and the absurdity of it all.
Words by b.yond.
Release Type: Album
Release Date: 4 December 2017
Release Format: Digital • Vinyl
Record Label • Catalog: Erototox Recordings • ETD0032
Purchase Links: Erototox store