There is an episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations set in Hawaii where the host visits a couple living in Royal Gardens on The Big Island, a subdivision in the path of volcano Kilauea's three-decade long, lugubrious lava flow. Theirs was the last house that hadn't been consumed (until 2007 when the owner had to be airlifted from the flame-engulfed area). Daily, they monitored the impending doom and discussed (in a subsequent interview) their relationship with the lava: it was thought of as a living thing, animate, interdependent. But it was / is always still thinking of destruction as it creeped down those hills.
I can't not think about that lava flow when running through Tournesol (French for "sunflower," which might make sense to the performers). Guitarist Julien Desprez, contrabassist Benjamin Duboc and Julien Loutelier's percussion start low in the register and remain in a dark pool with no notions of exploring more than what can be exhausted within this engulfing texture. The bowing (these dudes are big on bowing), grumbling, knob-twiddling and oscillating harmonics of "Pour Que" spend almost seven minutes digging a hole to the center of the Earth; as mentioned, this is dense sound that makes you grit your teeth and brace yourself against a nearing tempest, though the tension rarely releases. "La" is more nervous and percussively dynamic as the trio engages in a twitchy flail out the gate. Loutelier's sluggish rhythm of cymbal strikes puts the first Western touch-down on the music, but it's short-lived, and everything returns to vibrating, contained-thunder almost immediately. On "Nuit", the performers operate a physical dragging and droning whisper until a metallic thump from Loutelier encourages all to raise the volume (size and amplitude) while grooving in the same aesthetic. It's a nebulous shape without seams or borders, skronking and scraping around, that peaks and slowly curls back into a ball in the corner over Desprez's loop of warm reverb pulses.
Finale "S'ouvre" (yes the four titles spell out "For the night to open") is a twelve minute summary of the previous events with Duboc hanging back and offering an occasional pluck while guitar and percussion fidget wildly. Not much new, but that's fine. The music accelerates, develops into an understatedly violent contrabass-lead forest of choking weeds and returns as a wind-blown pile of ash. Lie down and let the last embers char your faculties.
Comments and Feedback: