CHROMB! – Cinq

Dur et Doux 2023


French foursome access their spectral graffiti on full-length offering number five.

The ability to liberate idiosyncrasy from anxiety often depends on syncing various routes of one’s fantasy to the desire to have fun – and that’s the trick this Lyon collective perform with a lot of gusto on their record whose title spells out a number the quartet’s 2012 debut “I” projected as a digit. Sure enough, such an approach may dictate any artist’s stylistic choices, yet “Cinq” doesn’t seem to bear any genre-laden burden and follows the course mapped out by the four musicians’ labyrinthine melodies which veer away from the obvious without ever losing sight of the point where sly smile and serious intent meet ‘n’ hit the prog rock fan on the bottom. Proffering a pun-strewn trip to the psychedelic fair, the Gallic group can’t go wrong if their listeners drop any preconceptions in regard to what to expect here.

Frivolity? Of course! Only from the short, albeit invigorating, retro jive of “Fredilippe” whose synth-pop is embroidered with 8-bit patterns to the mini-epic finale of “Et des couteaux” whose fusion chorale and percussive bursts are exquisite, there’s hardly a moment to contemplate all the reveries permeating this album. The initial scent of electronica may soon be washed away by the medieval madrigal of “La cérémonie” whose spiritual a cappella lead-in is shot through with belligerent trance groove to propel it towards bell-like four-part harmonies folding out over cosmic sound effects that give way to faux-orchestral grandeur, but “Pauvre Brobre” attempts to pitch stygian riffs against cinematic sonics and hilarious snippets of speech and crazy-ass singing. And while Lucas Hercberg’s bass and Léo Dumont’s drums spice up the pseudo-primitive swirl of Camille Durieu and Antoine Mermet’s ivories on a constantly shifting plateau, the deceptively abstract passages of “Roupoutoum contre Routoupoum” will locate a playground in space – or a ballroom for “Le Prince” to do a polyrhythmic dance obeying the capricious commands of lysergic, yet lyrical, sax before “Rongongonfre” sees techno expunge subtleties from trip hop in favor of acid jazz.

The results are vertiginously unhinged but irresistible in a sink-or-swim manner – or a cinq-or-swim, because what’s going on this record is unique.


January 22, 2024

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