Review: Oiseaux-Tempête – S/T

It’s like witnessing water crystalise under freezing temperatures. The guitars rise up from sparing, soft ripples of individual note – planted on silence like pebbles dropped gently into the water – into spewing blizzard jets that shower over cymbals and other loose energy splashes, arcing upward with the fizz of a thousand miniature icicles fired forth in quick succession. It’s a volatile record; explosive and unpredictable like a natural disaster at some points, pregnant with catastrophic potential at others, with each band member feeding off the others with a very direct and sensitive attitude toward collaborative consequence. One heavy-handed strum is often enough to send a hairline fracture through the album’s most delicate, vacant stretches – writhing into the floor where the structure breaks open, with the album’s sombre introspection inverted into a rage of misery; a fear-induced outward attack, clawing mindlessly at the winter isolation that closes in.

The field recordings are beautiful too. They rumble up through the moments where the music disperses; memories of distant conversations that catch the conscious mind unaware, suddenly opening up into a past life spent slogging cyclically through urban Greece, painting faint traces of context onto the bluesy, melancholic trudge that wanders in after. Texture is everything, and every sound on Oiseaux-Tempête is one that I can touch: a loose snare skin that quiver and boom under assertive impact, a bass guitar that clunks between notes like a tractor changing gear, a palm-muted belch that falls onto the ears like a tightly scrunched ball of foil, a saxophone that rears up like a leather whip raised and poised to strike. On “Kyrie Eleison” I feel as though I’m marching onward under the delusion that I know where I’m going; on “Silencer” I stop to ingest a vast, desolate place and realise that I’m lost. Such a juxtaposition encapsulates Oiseaux-Tempête perfectly; it is a record that immerses me in an illusion of monumental significance only to leave me twitching between states of anxiety and uncertainty, haunted by the confusion of the past and victimised by the jaws of the future.