Bend the Future actually released Sounds So Wrong in May this year, and as such, this review is a little late, but it’s an intriguing piece of work and it would be a shame if it were not given the attention it deserves. The band are based in Grenoble, and play an interesting mix of prog and jazz stylings without really settling in either camp for very long. They are apt to change the mood of a piece completely part-way through, switching from laid-back late night jazz musings to up-tempo rocky explorations and back again, so nothing stands still for very long.
Vocals are used sparingly, and it’s their instrumental prowess which impresses most, but when voices are employed it makes a pleasing contrast and sense of focus. Opening track Desert Eagle is a good example, and is one of the rockier compositions. The tempo is sprightly, driven by Piel Pawlowski on drums, with simple guitar chords, alto sax and soprano sax interweaving to provide the jazz edge, and synth adding a prog dimension. The piece builds, vocals becoming more forceful, Can Yildirim’s guitars more strident until reaching a zenith of hard-edged riffing whilst Pierre-Jean Ménabé’s sax wails beautifully. By contrast, Jemlamatür is a delightful instrumental, built initially on a bubbly synth from Samy Chëbre and a tricky time signature played on drums and bass synth (as far as I can tell!), setting the scene before a change in time leads to a beautiful melody as keyboards and strings take over, building to a swelling climax with soaring guitar. It’s not a long piece, but judged to perfection, and sums up what is so interesting about this collective.
Fall Apart introduces another mood change, with a dark spacey feel, gently rumbling bass and eerie synth as strange intoned vocals join in. This intro then melts away into a relaxed jazz workout, saxes and guitar trading tasty licks, then playing the melody in unison. As is typical with Bend the Future, the opening of a song rarely informs much about where it will lead or end up, and that makes for a fun listen. They will twist from rock to chamber to jazz all in the space of a few minutes, never lingering in one groove for long, yet progressing in a natural organic way. Other highlights include the closing piece, Now is the Moment, the longest song at just eight minutes, which reinvents itself half-way through, and features some lovely backing vocals from guest Claire Grunenberger. Miniature II also deserves a mention, as it explores further a theme from Without Notice, their last studio album, thus giving some continuity.
Sounds So Wrong isn’t going to change the world, it’s treasures are quite subtle, but it’s certainly well worth a listen. It’s refreshing to hear a band gradually develop their own style, and not be content to be pigeon-holed. They hint at greater things when everything clicks, as on Jemlamatür in particular, but elsewhere too. I will be following their progress with interest, and would recommend giving this album a listen.
01. Desert Eagle (5:33)
02 Jemlematür (4:47)
03. Fall Apart (4:33)
04. Somewhere Beneath (6:46)
05. Vast (5:13)
06. Miniature II (3:08)
07. Those Small Things (2:44)
08. Not Even (4:26)
09. Now is the Moment (8:11)
Total Time – 45:38
Samy Chëbre – Piano, Synthesisers, Rhodes
Piel Pawlowski – Drums, Percussion
Rémi Pouchain – Bass, Bass Synthesiser
Pierre-Jean Ménabé – Alto Sax
Nemo Pawlowski – Soprano Sax
Can Yildirim – Vocals, Guitar, Bass
Claire Grunenberger – Backing Vocals (tracks 5 & 9)
Élodie Saumur, Maxime Le Tallec, Pierre-Jean Ménabé, Rufus Lawrence – String Quartet (tracks 2 & 7)
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: France
Date of Release: 19th May 2023