The last album I reviewed that involved the ever-busy and highly talented eclectic bass wrangler Frederick Galiay was Apokálupsis by Big (drum&bass), but Pearls Of Swines could not be more different. Apokálupsis was a strange and hard to like “deeply disturbing avant cacophony” as I described it, whereas this new album is a pleasing blast of accessible avant-rock and general strangeitude, and is far more listenable than its oddly named distant cousin.
Pearls Of Swines sets the poems of Edgar Allan Poe to the music of Frederick Galiay (with help from Sarah Murcia on The Raven Part 1), an idea that could be a toe-curling disaster in the wrong hands. Luckily, M. Galiay knows what is needed; short spiky bursts of still tuneful aggression shining a black light on Poe’s dark nights of the soul in verse.
Opening track Eulalie builds on an insistent and increasingly agitated riff of a Frippian bent, shot through with punky attitude, and is a fine start to a highly energetic record. The lead vocals on the album are mostly supplied by Sarah Murcia, who is possessed of a disinterested drawl of a voice that contrasts nicely with the spiky and fiercely energetic music. Imagine a vocal Gallic shrug intoning “Now doubt, now pain. Gone, never again” against a backdrop of avant-spikiness – it works a treat.
The gorgeously threatening and near-subsonic bass on Imitation sets just the right dark tone for the duo of Frederick and Sarah to breathily intone the verse in unison. It will also blow the dust off your subwoofers! A short, poignant and laid back anti-melodic guitar solo on Ligeia adds another layer of menace before we reach the centrepiece of the album.
The Raven Part 1 has a sub-Barrett repeated single note riff above which descending Farfisa-like organ provides a psychedelic groove for singer Sarah Murcia to fragilely intone Poe’s most well-known work; all very hypnotic; “…suddenly there came a tapping” is underlined by the tapped out snare rhythm that pins it all down. You can feel the tide rising as the guitar plays briefly in unison with Sarah’s “nameless here for evermore”, before a short synth solo leads to the next lysergically-soaked verse. The beat is unchanging and monolithic, now locked in with the bass, and the music gets ever more insistent and louder by very small increments. A true lesson in dynamics used to maximum effect.
Part II is utterly different, where jarring choppy guitar arm-wrestles with contrapuntal drums and bass, to be joined by the keyboards adding touches of poptastic synth squiggle. Eventually stuttering semi-spoken vocals complete the image of an alien Gang Of Four cutting rugs in the Andromeda galaxy. Edgar Allan would be proud!
More evidence of post-punk influence sees concluding track When the rest of heaven was blue lurch along like some part-remembered Fall song awaiting MES to stagger on from stage left and knock the microphone stand over. Instead we get guitarist Gilles Coronado indulging an Andy Gill fixation as Sarah and Frederick chant Poe’s poem Alone as a mantra invoking the spirit of noise rock. The tune becomes more and more chaotic, the multi-tracked guitars eventually scratching and howling away like caged banshees. Marvellous!
This has been a true eye-opener of an album, one that is progressive in the full sense of the word, for you will not hear its like in this or any other year. One for the more adventurous of our readers, yes, but don’t be put off for it is accessible in its own singular way.
01. Eulalie (4:41)
02. Overture (4:06)
03. Imitation (5:12)
04. Ligeia (6:24)
05. The Raven Part I (7:58)
06. The Raven Part II (2:37)
07. Descent (2:17)
08. When the rest of heaven was blue (7:16)
Total Time – 40:35
Gilles Coronado – Guitars
Frederick Galiay – Bass & Voice
Sarah Murcia – Voice & Keyboards
Franck Valliant – Acoustic & Electronic Drums
Record Label: Gazul Records
Catalogue#: GA 8865
Year Of Release: 2014