Review: David Fenech – Grand Huit

Grand Huit quivers its way off key and stumbles out of 4/4 rhythmic confines, warbling into cheap microphones and pushing the incessant return of flimsy drum samples to the fore. There’s a potent sense of hand-assembly surrounding David Fenech’s first ever full-length; a lo-fi reimagining via musical cardboard and clumsily applied masking tape, embarking on a crooked adoption of limping trip-hop, sensual electronica and garish falsetto funk, all recorded within the delightful limitations of a cassette four-track. It sounds isolated somewhat – shut away in a cramped studio space, detached from mainstream music’s slick production values but vaguely aware of its host of stylistic clichés.

The vocals are a particularly distinctive aspect. On “Mister Master”, Fenech rasps and growls over wayward splats of keyboard and the boing of beater against a loose drum skin, occasionally breaking from the unintelligible monologue to cough and splutter directly down the microphone; he sounds dogged with flu, and there’s something incredibly engaging about Fenech’s merciless, germs ‘n’ all document of his current state. Elsewhere, his voice moves between infantile whimpers and the double-tracked wails of a drunken Bee Gees karaoke, flailing erratically over the drum machines and palm-mashed organs, yet strained as though conscious of waking people in the next room over.

It’s an album of collage, tumbling between recorded conversations, sloshing water, sci-fi electronics and busted vinyls – the songs are stranded somewhere in amongst all of this, clambering out of the noise and assembling themselves out of the scraps of sound available. “Grand Huit” is actually the French term for “roller coaster”, and while the album lacks the slick mechanical grandeur of an amusement park ride, it undoubtedly shares the perverse thrill of pure disorientation.