Formed in 2010, Magnetoscop. is a band whose sound is forged on dark overtones and haunting passages of bleak emotion packed nothingness. Their latest album, “Un Fleur Dans Le Goudon” is a mysterious orchestra of emotion, interweaving distortion guitars that hum in despair with ghostly piano segments. I’ve listened to this album nearly half a dozen time and with each listen my imagination wanders further and further as the 9 track, 45 minute story unfolds.
The album title translates to “A Flower in Tar”, quite a depressing scene if you ask me. The album opens with a chilling piano based tune that sets the scenery as bleak, lonesome and dark. From here we have “I’Homme” which has French samples that are most likely a crucial key to the story that is about to unfold. This is where I’m left out in the cold, unable to decipher what is being said, forced to use only my imagination to paint the picture myself. In so many ways this feels like a blessing rather than a curse. In a genre that has no shortage of stories unraveling through the use of only instrumentals, “Une Fleur Dans Le Goudron” is a welcome challenge.
Church bells chime amongst the chattering of birds as the sound of a heavy door of olden times open in “Ulan Bator (ou Jekyll Devient Hyde)” begins. The wooden floor squeaks as the character proceeds forward before fumbling with glass instruments. A scene inside a chemists lab is unfolding. The music’s intensity picks up as water begins to bubble. The track has all the vintage markings of modern post-rock yearning to be of a different time and era. At the end of the track lightning cracks the sky and rain pours from the heavens above onto the ground below. “Apres Le Pluie” (after the rain) part 1 is a short interlude that see an acoustic guitar intertwine with a more elegant piano segment while part 2 expands upon the sound, adding drums and a multitude of layers into the mix. The track grows increasingly loud, pushing the pace with through the use of cymbal crashing with aggressive piano notes.
Another short sample after “Le Meche” and in “Feu” offers us more of the stories clues, but anyone who doesn’t speak French is still left out in the cold. “Feu” takes a stark turn from the rest of the album as it’s a much heavier track with a quicker tempo. More french samples play amongst the sounds of a cities ambiance in “Opium” as cars in the distance echo throughout the city. The track itself is a much more relaxed vibe and is the “prettiest” track on the album if you will. Magnetoscop. saved the best and longest track for last, as “I’armee Du Cancrelat” (Army of Cockroach) clocks in at almost nine and a half minutes. In this moody closer the album we hear a slow burn build up as distortion guitars rev up in heroic spiraling fashion as drumming intensifies. The french samples are distraught, telling me something has gone horribly wrong throughout the story. The track slows down with a drawn out exit as we fade away from the musical journey and back into reality.
Magnetoscop. have done an outstanding job painting the scenery around the story and deserve much credit for maintaining that atmosphere throughout the album without so much as breaking stride once. That being said, stripped of its atmosphere and samples what “Une Fleur Dans Le Goudron” lacks is originality. It’s a rather basic sounding somber and bleak post-rock album, albeit a finely crafted album, that has all the tell-tale signs of french influence that I’m use to hearing. It does serve it’s purpose though in reminding us that post-rock is truly a universal language, transcending language barriers and uniting those who have a deep admiration for this style of music regardless of their positioning on the globe. That in itself is an undertaking I can surely get behind. 9/29/12
Available for $2 on bandcamp: http://magnetoscop.bandcamp.com/album/une-fleur-dans-le-goudron