2013 Top 10s & 20s
The Knells' The Knells
Spotlight 11

John Luther Adams
Astro Sonic
Mark Cetilia
Ulises Conti
Stephen Cornford
Exercise One
Stavros Gasparatos
Rael Jones
The Knells
Lord Echo
Selaxon Lutberg
Martin & Berg
Josh Mason
Ron Morelli
One Far West
Orange Yellow Red
Piano Interrupted
Oleg Poliakov
Saffronkeira + Massa
Scarlet Youth
Burkhard Stangl
Peter Van Hoesen
Vatican Shadow

Compilations / Mixes
EPM Selected Vol. 2
My Love For You Is Analog.
OFF To ADE 2013
Tempo Dreams Vol. 2
Transit 2

EPs / Cassettes / Singles
Fighting Lion
Kyle Fosburgh
Fre4knc / Nuage
Rezo Glonti
Ishan Sound
Pennygiles & Phil Tangent
Dominic Petrie
Sontag Shogun
Thrash Pilot

Oiseaux-Tempête: Oiseaux-Tempête
Sub Rosa

Oiseaux-Tempête's self-titled debut album appears on Sub Rosa, but it's got Gizeh written all over it. First of all, two of the group's four members are Frédéric D. Oberland and Stéphane Pigneul, who also play in FareWell Poetry and whose Hoping For The Invisible To Ignite appeared on Gizeh in 2011. Secondly, Oiseaux-Tempête traffics in a kind of experimental instrumental rock that would sound as much at home on Gizeh as it does Sub Rosa. At first blush, it would seem that calling the band's sound post-rock wouldn't be out of order, given the emphasis on guitar, bass, and drums, but, in fact, doing so would be misleading: compared to the typical post-rock outfit, Oiseaux-Tempête's sound is looser, more experimental. Furthermore, the band is more likely to serve up an ominous tape experiment, psychedelic improv, or seething dronescape than a straightforward post-rock piece. There's a powerful sense of urgency to the playing, and with that in mind it doesn't surprise that the material was recorded live over a three-day period. One gets the impression that the band first laid down a generous amount of freeform instrumental playing and then threaded in other elements thereafter to help shape the album into its final form.

Adding to the trippy vibe, voice samples (sung and spoken) and strings swim within the mix, and sonically, the band's sound is rich, densely embroidered as it is with Oberland's tremolo-laden guitar shudder, keyboards, and alto sax, Pigneul's bass, and Ben McConnell's drumming. There's a fourth member, too, French photographer-filmmaker Stéphane C., who, along with Oberland, contributes field recordings captured in Greece. A thematic narrative of sorts parallels the album's unfolding, with the music attempting to distill into sonic form the diseased and dysfunctional character of Western society. On ideological and sonic grounds, one therefore wouldn't be out of order in drawing a parallel or two between Oiseaux-Tempête and Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

Both epic and haunted, “Opening Theme (Ablaze in the Distance)” establishes the tone for the album when swathes of guitar-generated noise reach such a feverish pitch, it feels as if the musicians are being engulfed by a storm (a move revisited during the blistering back half of “Ouroboros”). The album isn't always so fiery, however, as chiming guitar textures dial it down to a more delicate level during “Nuage Noir,” and Oiseaux-Tempête also features experimental collage-like settings (“La Traversée” and “L'ile”) and vignettes heavy on field recordings and atmosphere (“Sophia's Shadow” and “Silencer”). The group isn't afraid to stretch out, either, as settings of twelve- and eighteen-minute duration make clear (“L'ile” and “Ouroboros,” respectively). Interestingly, “Ouroboros” suggests that not only might Godspeed You! Black Emperor be seen as a kindred spirit but Pink Floyd, too, given the track's unhurried unfolding and its dusty, “Shine On, You Crazy Diamond”-like vibe (instrumentally speaking). At seventy-five minutes, it's a long recording (a classic double album in vinyl form), so one is advised to settle in and get comfortable before undertaking the scenic ride.

December 2013