Dale Cooper Quartet

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66 Degrees Nord (1997), 6.5/10
Upwards At 66 Degrees N (1999), 6/10
Bedtime for Rio (2000), 6/10
Pulsar Headlights Mass Dipped Eastwards (2001), 5/10
Rock to the Top Rock Will Never Stop (2006), 6/10
Kantkino (2011), 6/10
Dale Cooper Quartet:
Parole De Navarre (2006), 7/10
Metamanoir (2011), 6.5/10
Quatorze Pieces De Menace (2013), 7/10
Astrild (2017), 5/10
Ramses Redoute (2020), 5/10

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.

The sprawling 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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