Tank, a French combo led by
bassist Christophe Mevel, and featuring guitarist Pierre Noblet, keyboardist Yannick Martin and keyboardist Gael Loison and drummer Niko Lazarakopoulos, debuted with
66 Degrees Nord (1997), a tribute to Neu's "motorik" music in
diguise, especially Gunnar, the exotic Hotel Gardur and the eight-minute electronic Klakinn.
Upwards At 66 Degrees N (1999), de facto a solo album by Mevel,
is still anchored to alien neurotic rhythms but
mixes (and loops) electronic keyboards and drum-machines (and live drums) in more
disorienting forms, yielding the
dissonant, glitchy, fractured Gunnar Reverse (10:32),
the syncopated post-funk shuffle Nord - Sud (15:03)
and jazz jam Drangar (8:20).
Bedtime for Rio (2000) opens with the relatively serene synth fantasia Rose de Basalte, but then intones another tribal Neu-esque dance/trance
(the 13-minute Gullfoss) and concludes with a similar rhythmic "locomotive", the ten-minute Troll (9:52), after the 17-minute prog-jazz suite
Ishellir (the only piece that is a collaboration by Mevel with the old members).
Pulsar Headlights Mass Dipped Eastwards (2001) documents a live
performance by the
quartet of Mevel, Noblet, Martin and drummer Cyrille Rozec.
The first two lengthy "phases" are intricate jazzy instrumentals,
while Phase 3 is a slower, bluesy, psychedelic beast.
Rock to the Top Rock Will Never Stop (2006), recorded between 2000 and 2005 by Mevel with help from the usual suspects (notably Lazarakopoulos, Loison and guitarist Joachim Henn) contains
six "regions", starting with the demonic voodoobilly
Tutto Part 1 - La Lave des Condamnes (11:05),
via the distorted tribal nightmare of Nicht Part 1 - La Colline du Feu (10:23), and ending with the atmospheric ambient drones of
Alles Part 1 - Le Plateau Depuis le Plateau (17:34).
Unfortunately, the meandering Niente Part 1 - La Vallee des Sources / Part 2 - La Chute Pendue (20:12)
and the psychedelic
All Part 1 - Sur la Piste / Part 2 - I Can Build A Shadow for You (9:10)
are just filler.
Tank's adventure concluded with Kantkino (2011), another solo album by Mevel, that contains the ugly and abrasive drones of Holland 84 (8:57) and especially the industrial voodoobilly Bornemouth 83 (10:32).
Mevel then formed the
Dale Cooper Quartet (the name is a reference to David Lynch's Twin Peaks
and therefore to the soundtracks made by Angelo Badalamenti)
with Loison, Yannick Martin (now on guitar)
and saxophonist Arnaud Le Gall, that debuted with
Parole De Navarre (Diesel Combustible, 2006), ostensibly a collaboration with the Dictaphones, i.e. vocalists Ronan Mac Erlaine, Gaelle Kerrien and Zalie Bellacicco (although the vocals are insignificant in this mostly instrumental album).
The album's highlights are the
funereal sax-driven elegy Une Cellier, in the vein of
Bohren & der Club of Gore,
the slow-motion melancholy of Aucun Cave,
the sleepy and blurred Badalamenti-esque ballad Mon Bibliotheque (before the hysterical crescendo),
the gentle black hole of Ma Dressing,
and especially the sinister tribal dance of Ma Couloir.
The album's "piece de resistance" is the 12-minute digital collage
Lui Hall, an anemic sax litany skating over glitchy noise in a swampy atmosphere.
Metamanoir (2011), recorded by the quartet of
Mevel, Loison, Martin and saxophonist Krystian Sarrau,
indulged in the same moribund rhythms and nocturnal atmospheres
The album incorporates real singing (by the Dictaphones) in the eleven-minute ballad Eux Exquis Acrostole but the vocals are better employed in the more abstract and shapeless Ma Insaisissable Abri.
The eight-minute Le Implacable Gentilhommiere too features real singing (a male voice).
The 13-minute Mon Tragique Chartreuse is a martial bolero in which a petulant distorted guitar duets with wordless nun-like vocals.
The same quartet, plus some friends and the Dictaphone vocalists, moved towards
ambient music on the double-LP Quatorze Pieces De Menace (Denovali, 2013)
In the floating, rarefied 21-minute Brosme en Dos-vert
the sax melody appears only after eight minutes and soon dissolves in
a pattern of blurred ripples while shoegaze-style guitar distortion begins
to flood the horizon; and the ending is swept by a nostalgic orchestral wind.
The eight-minute Nourrain Quinquet pins a male litany to
nocturnal fossile jazz.
Female laments pierce a shroud of drones in the ten-minute funeral march La Ventree Rat de Cave.
There's a real song hidden in the nine-minute Il Bamboche Empereurs,
sung by a destitute female singer but battered by recurring gusts of
synth and guitar over a somewhat Caribbean beat.
The album ends with the stately blues jam Ignescence Black-bass Recule.
This is possibly their most "existential" work, brooding and philosophical
while tying their experimental practice to the traditional song form.
Astrild (Denovali, 2017), by the same lineup,
is a disappointing work. The
tidal drones and noise of Mia Outarde Bondon are promising but
the lengthy ballads
Pemp Ajour Imposte (10:26) and
Tua Oriel Courvite Isabelle (9:55)
are displays of their weakest elements: the
crooning is not exactly exciting and the instrumental section is too static.
Son Mansarde Roselin (18:02) tries in vain to connect spoken-word vocals and a sort of psychedelic atmosphere reminiscent of early Pink Floyd.
The album is partially redeemed by
the abstract and emotional soundpainting of
Huis Chevechette (10:36) and by the terrifying vibration of
Ta Chassis Euplecte (10:14).
Dale Cooper Quartet: Brosme en Dos-vert
Ramses Redoute (Music From The Masses, 2020)
documents a live performance of september 2017.
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