Over twenty years of making music, and it appears that TYG have no intentions of getting bored with their form of art yet. There really isn’t any point in trying to pigeonhole this band into a genre – they have crossed so many boundaries, used so many influences over their existence since 1985 (think Kurt Weill to Ministry via many points inbetween) that they are like one giant furnace of ideas.
Super Ready / Fragmenté
The appearance of XX: Twenty Years 1985-2005 seemed to suggest at first glance that it might at last be a swansong, a sign that years of imperious advancement might be coming to an end. At least until you heard opener (and sole new track) Secret (which also appears on the new album), which teemed with life and drive, and signalled a return to the more rock-influenced end of their work from the past, rather than the recent icy techno/electronic direction that they took on last album Second Nature and in part on mid-nineties classic Only Heaven.
This album opens with a bang – I’m The Drug and Freeze are built around enormous guitar riffs and a fast pace, before the strange vocal contortions (try singing along with the chorus if you aren’t a fluent French speaker) and ambience of C’est Quoi C’est Ça bring things down a little.
The one thing that is notable about the album is how organic it sounds – even with samples and electronics swirling in-and-out of the mix, and the various vocal treatments, the drums and guitars sound both live and incredibly precise (like they were re-tooled to get exactly the right sound – presumably the guitars are sampled anyway as usual). Perhaps they were – either way, it sounds incredible, as on El Magnifico, where Bernard Trontin’s drumming takes centre stage and pulls everything else with it. Stay With Us brings plucked sitars, multi-tracked vocals and little else to the mix. About Time stands head and shoulders above the first half of the album, as a steadily building track that is truly epic in scope – this time with the drums taking a smooth rhythm, but without being intrusive as the guitars take the lead, squalling across the soundscape before landing like an anvil across Franz’s howling chorus.
Machine Arrière works as a curious, acapella track, only a minute long with Franz’s vocals sounding like they are being broadcast across the radio – complete with static! The Color Code then almost picks up where About Time left off – almost the same beat – but with swirls of electronics that bring to mind the feel of wading through the waves and fighting the tide.
It has become almost a tradition that each TYG release has a track that works as a centrepiece – and this album is no exception. The title track takes it’s time to build, but rather than being in sections is one whole nine-minute piece that ebbs and flows before gradually ekeing away for the aforementioned Secret to pick up the baton. Everythere is nearly every bit as good – with minimalist verses, and rampaging choruses (think Kissing The Sun brought into the future), while closing Un Point C’Est Tout is more than a bit odd – vocals, instruments and effects all snap out of the silence in a very disjointed fashion, making for a very unnerving listening experience – particularly on headphones.
So the journey continues – and where they next stop, god only knows. This band’s greatest weapon has always been their unpredictability, and their impossibly wide scope. Visionaries from their very first album all those years ago, they happily remain worthy of that title even now.