Finally finding a voice to deepen the meaning of their instrumental narrative, international collective throw defiance in the face of adversity.
This ensemble seemed to embrace defeat on "The Failure Of Words" in 2017, that album’s follow-up, the band’s fourth enterprise, displays a different attitude yet apparently continues the theme of its impressive predecessor, as envisioned by guitarist and composer Frédéric L’Epée. “Designed For Disaster” has a vague concept whose flow is of utmost importance because that’s where the record’s inner logic and melodic cohesion meet to create a mesmeric, if deliberately troubled, experience, three brief interludes providing more than relief from sonic onslaught when they draw mood-dividing lines between various sorts of storms and occasional aural oases of calm.
So while there’s there’s merry menace in L’Epée and Laurent James’s delicate picking and heavy riffs on opener “Descendance” whose stereo-panned harmonies offer lift such advice as “If the moment feels unsafe, maybe easy again to disconnect” to the rippling surface to disorient the listener, the raging swirl of “Collision Course” will be electronically whipped into a frenzy and pushed towards a Frippetronic terrain. But though “Disentropy” rearranges its faux-orchestral disarray into an enchanting folksy gossamer, prodded by exquisite bass, nothing can beat the album’s central triplet.
Once there, going past the “Golem” hint, the group play the role of a demiurge and sculpt “Words” as a chthonic chorale in which every single-syllable lexeme, plucked from different languages, is spectacularly hefty, before urging romantic strum and Ayşe Cansu Tanrikulu’s quasi-operatic vocalese to unfold “Flower You” into a gorgeously angular, albeit diaphanous and detailed, and increasingly insistent, ballad. These two stylistic strands are grafted upon each other in “Despite Origins” to deliver a devilish, baroque-scented oratorio for a finale, after “Unisson” has drifted back to pellucid, crimson-tinted worry, the tenderly relentless, yet slightly alien, “Migrations” revealed a few wildly rocking licks during a filigree solo, and “La Voie Du Mensonge” released a gloomy twang into the ether.
The result of it all may be slightly disorientating but rapturous, and this is the development that’s impossible to ignore.