There’s an immense satisfaction to be had in watching distinctly different worlds coming together and working in unexpected ways. In this case, those already familiar with both Hemlock Smith and Les Poissons Autistes won’t be at all surprised that their combined efforts work incredibly. Their 2008 debut collaborative LP, Three Times Dead, was well-received; its combination of Hemlock Smith’s mournful, folk-tinged dreaminess and Les Poissons Autistes‘ abstract, electronic noise pairing for results that were as brooding as they were beautiful. Now, as we venture into the new year, we’ve been given a glimmer of light to look forward to: the pair’s long-awaited sophomore album, The Necrophone Sessions, due for release on February 26 via Roman Numeral Records.
2008 was a long time ago, and you might find yourself wondering what their fusion sounds like after all these years. As it happens, there’s no longer any need to wonder, as we are delighted to be premiering the first single off the album – “Comb the Ashes” – right here at Everything Is Noise, and once you’ve experienced what the years have done to Hemlock Smith & Les Poissons Autistes, you’ll likely agree that perhaps ‘a glimmer of light’ might not have been the most apt phrasing on my part.
You can stream the music video for “Comb the Ashes” below:
Intense doesn’t do it justice. While the innate beauty of Hemlock Smith’s style is still there in the mix, it’s been peeled back to its barest essence, and is quickly carried away by the swelling tides of Les Poissons Autistes’ soundscapes – simultaneously more and less accessible than ever. Its abstract qualities have been smelted into a cold industrial soundscape that slowly clicks to life like a waking praying mantis, crawling towards the gravelly whispers of vocalist Michael Frei, building tension until it just… stops. In one fell swoop, the beautiful insect has consumed its prey, and we are left to contemplate the emptiness that follows – the silence as though it never happened.
All of this is set to overlaid visuals comprised of grainy, macabre imagery that flickers before your eyes – both totally innocuous, and of a quality that leaves you with the unsettling sense that you’ve just seen things you were never meant to see. In essence, it evokes that exact same feelings as the track itself, and the pairing of the two doubles the intensity, making for a truly gripping experience.
While indeed uncomfortable, there is a tasteful reflectiveness to what Hemlock Smith & Les Poissons Autistes have achieved with their comeback; a certain grand quality that’s new to the mix, that is unfamiliar and exciting – evocative in some ways of Nine Inch Nail’s ambitious The Fragile, while still sounding contemporary and like themselves. They couldn’t have picked a finer reintroduction, and I look forward to experiencing the full scope of their creation in just a few months’ time.
Be sure to check out Roman Numeral Records, and Hemlock Smith & Les Poissons Autistes on Facebook to stay up to date with this exciting forthcoming release. You can also find the artists individually on Facebook (Hemlock Smith, Les Poissons Autistes) and Bandcamp (Hemlock Smith, Les Poissons Autistes).