Le Réveil Des Tropiques: Le Réveil Des Tropiques
Music Fear Satan

If the self-titled release by Le Réveil Des Tropiques sounds like a recording that grew out of in-studio improvs, that's pretty much as it should be because that's precisely how it came into being. The double-disc (CD or LP) set is the first outing by a Paris quintet whose members—Adrien Kanter (electric guitar, synthesizers, cracklebox, voice), Frédéric D. Oberland (electric guitar, keyboards, alto saxophone, theremin), Stéphane Pigneul (bass), Matthieu Philippe de l'Isle (synthesizers, tapes, percussion, voice), and Arnaud Rhuth (drums)—come from Farewell Poetry, One Second Riot, Ulan Bator, and others. As befits an outfit whose members have roots in improv, noise, post-rock, experimental, and post-punk, the music traverses a broad range over the course of its eighty-three minutes. Having played for a few months, the band secluded itself in the studio for two days and three nights of free-range improvising that would eventually materialize into Le Réveil Des Tropiques.

The opener “Jérusalem” is in many ways representative of the album's style and approach. Slowly coming into focus, the music kicks into gear four minutes into its fifteen-minute run when the drums light a fire under the guitarists, who proceed to indulge in some heavy cross-riffing that recalls Sonic Youth jams of yore. There's shredding galore and no small amount of white heat, as the band stokes a fierce blaze whose crescendo segues into the even-more ferocious “Tenochtitlan.” The band's more experimental side comes to the fore during “Homs,” an even-tempered drone setting with ties to krautrock and kosmische musik, and during the opening, drone-styled minutes of “Yonaguni.” Such strains in the group's music are strengthened whenever Philippe de l'Isle's synthesizers manage to be heard above the six-string fray—not always easy to do when the band plunges into one of its signature infernos, as happens towards the end of “Antibes.” On disc two, “Sigiriya” roars at a breakneck tempo, its lacerating howl at times threatening to implode, while the noisefest “Kinshasa” wails just as uncompromisingly. Arriving as it does after so much intensity, the more sedate guitar interplay of “Anthemusa” provides a satisfying resolution.

The vinyl format complements the music especially well with the nine tracks spread fairly evenly across the four sides. Many of the pieces are long (the longest, the plodding and volcanic “Yonaguni,” seventeen minutes), and the extended running times give the band ample room to stretch out and indulge its members' penchant for psychedelic space jams and freakout moments, all of which suggests Le Réveil Des Tropiques' most natural home is onstage. Your ears will probably need time to recover once it's over, but there's no denying the outfit's power.

December 2012