Fange contort themselves and take some calculated risks with Privation, another glorious notch in their stainless steel, sludgy belt.
Release date: March 10, 2023 | Throatruiner | Facebook | Instagram | Stream/Purchase
Both Eeli and I have some history with Rennes, France’s Fange, a sludge/death/industrial powerhouse that’s big on vibes and bigger on heavy execution. It’s been a slow burn ramp-up to the announcement of Privation, the group’s latest, and potentially greatest, album. Why? Well, we get into that, for over 2000 words. Hope y’all brought a snack. Enjoy. 🙂
David: Hey Eeli, how have you been doing lately?
Eeli: Hey David! Living extremely busy and stressful times. Balancing work and free time with an infant has more or less rendered me working as little as possible with practically no time to devote to pastimes, such as writing. Things develop constantly though, so hopefully a relative calm will land soon. Probably not, but one can hope. How about you, how are things at your end?
D: Pretty much the same, though, thankfully, infantless. I still seem to pile on the work and this year will definitely be a test of boundaries, energy, and time. We both seem to have gotten much busier since the last time we did one of these which was well over a year ago to my memory. At least we still have some time to listen to cool-ass music?
E: It’s certainly been a while, and I agree that both of us have gotten the shit end of the stick since, figuratively speaking. But yeah, music is luckily still here to pull us through. Last year I noticed that my taste gradually changed along the seasons, and during the winter months it’s been all about harsh things in various genres. Even if it wasn’t, there is always a gap in the music schedule for some new Fange, isn’t there?
D: I would agree with that. I haven’t been a Fange fan for long, but since I have been they’ve been able to wrest my attention away from whatever/whoever else when they drop some new shit and I don’t think I’m gonna be alone in saying that Privation is any exception to that rule.
E: They do have that effect, and rightfully so. I first heard of them when they had just released Punir in 2019, and recall I was swept off my feet from the very first second onward. Since then they’ve been steadily and somewhat casually just dropping absolute ragers, Privation being the latest example of that. Once I got ahold of it, I quickly needed to come up with a dumb excuse to leave the apartment, getting an extra carton of milk or something of equal effect, just to be able to violently caress my ears with this little bundle of relentless unjoy.
D: I feel all of that. I don’t indulge in a ton of industrial grime like this so when I do, I want it to hit hard and Fange deliver every time. It’s cool to link up with you on this too because you reviewed Pudeur in 2020 and I reviewed Pantocrator in 2021 – now here we are. Why don’t we get right into it? How did you fare with your first few listens of this absolute nightmare?
E: Well, put in a PG language, it’s like they chopped my ass off, ran it through a blender, cooked the mush, and served the dish back at me while I just devoured it away without further concerns. I was quite stunned – and in awe to an extent – about the ways they pushed the envelope this time. Fange has always excelled in reinventing and refurbishing themselves, and Privation truly comes together in its own way, making a clear distinction to the earlier releases. It took quite a few spins for me to actually even realise what the hell is going on, on the nuance level.
D: Yeah, the phrase ‘firing on all cylinders’ is kind of cliché, but also greatly describes what they are up to this time around. After getting great, vaguely similar albums of malcontent and noise from bands like Chat Pile, KEN mode, and the like last year, Fange were kind of poised to come in with their take on gritty, sludgy, smudged music that feels deprived and wasted. So they did just that.
I made it a point to not go back to previous Fange albums before reviewing Privation so I could focus more on this album and its sound – with that in mind though, it’s like they’ve tapped into a new sort of viscerality here. It’s still Fange, just more. Fange+ I guess.
E: Yeah, I agree. Fange has never held back on the grit department, and probably because of that they’ve always felt very genuine in what they do. What sets Fange apart from most of the other current, oftentimes (for some reason) better known bands in the abrasive realm, is precisely this authenticity. Even when wildly experimenting and dipping outside of the box, they sound natural and free of any kind of mental semantics when it comes to making ‘certain kind of music’.
I didn’t listen to the previous albums in preparation either, granted that I have a rather firm grasp of them by memory. I agree with what you said about Privation having a rather visceral edge, and would add that there’s also maybe more emphasis on the mountain-moving production than before, in addition to the surprisingly fluent atmospheric parts. I might get crucified for saying it, but there’s this kind of gaze-esque factor that’s present this time around, especially in some of the guitar work. That’s not to say they’d gone soft – fuck no – but just that they’ve expanded to yet another unexpected territory.
D: Yeah, like gaze, but make it… venomous or something. I get a sense of openness from the atmosphere, but openness that’s abysmal and dangerous instead of freeing and calming. A few songs pull this off like the midsection of “Portes D’Ivoire” or the first verse of “A La Racine” which has this caustic-ass buildup to the gnarled, mechanized mauling that much of the music puts you through. I remember Fange being mid-tempo throughout most of their work and they maintain that here, but there’s some real slowed-down parts that venture into doom-like territory and really bring the agony out of the music. You know, in case the troubled, pained vocals weren’t enough.
E: Yeah, I think abysmal is an appropriate word for it. For me, especially the songs ”Sang-Vinaigre” and “Portes D’lvoire” embody this aspect in the most tangible fashion. They perfectly encapsulate this kind of deeply disturbed yet somehow perversely moving ambiance that I think is quite fresh for the band, being what, five albums and a few EPs to their career. On Privation they overall steer way more into the industrial and sample-tinged portions that albeit were well-established and present earlier, are now in the spotlight at all times. I think that’s an ideal development really, even though I always enjoyed their grindier and faster facets as well. The most important factor is that even though Privation is more mid to doom-paced in general, Fange‘s trademark cacophony translates into it effortlessly.
Speaking of translations, usually if a band uses any language that I’m not familiar with, I tend to look past the lyrics most of the time. Fange is different in this regard, as I’m inclined to fire up a translator whenever digging deeper into the aesthetics and themes. In this case both of those are rather ponderous, which itself is obvious through the primal and grating vocals already, which act as a cohesive glue of sorts, during the band’s musical voyages.
D: I totally agree – I’m hoping the lyrics all get posted somewhere upon launch and we can do our Googles and get an idea of what’s being conveyed here. It seems like the band have drudged up darker vocals and lyrics as time goes on so I anticipate some truly poetically depraved shit, cryptic yet still immediate with its off-putting imagery. French seems to be good for that.
I guess it’s no wonder the doom feeling has overtaken many bands as of late – it’s a reflection of our world at its most cynical. Even as I try to entertain and hold onto hope for a better world, the current state of things means getting lost in the malaise once in a while, either by choice or not. Fange, at least sonically though surely lyrically, conveys that sort of emotion expertly with Privation.
E: Right? That ties in with the authenticity angle I presented earlier; no matter which way you look at it, Fange are dead fucking serious with their craft. And honestly, I love that. Surely the current times push a lot of bands over the edge when it comes to sullen and dark subject matters, but some bands like Fange aren’t just flirting with it, but are instead encapsulated by the shroud of furor and desperation, and that is what lies at the band’s core, both musically and visually.
Speaking of visuals, Fange has always had stellar eye catching artworks, and Privation is no exception to that rule. I thought the pastel tones of the few previous releases were a breath of fresh air to the often musty appearance found on releases of their caliber, but even though the one for Privation is more focused on darker hues and innuendo, it follows the high standard Fange has set for themselves. The band’s guitarist Benjamin Moreau is responsible for the visual presentation, which again adds emphasis to their self-sufficiency quite a bit.
D: Would definitely agree with all that. Privation is the lack of basic needs like food or housing which certainly implies a lot within the harshness and themes of the music, but more specifically to the art, privation also refers to the theory that though all that exists has some good to it, only God is flawlessly good. This tracks with the Christ-adjacent figure on the cover, adorned with a crown of barbs/thorns, face engulfed in shadows. Fange have an aesthetic on all fronts and they’ll stick to it at all costs, though luckily the cost doesn’t detract from their art.
Even the short film they released, which uses the tracks “À La Racine” and “Sang-Vinaigre”, it’s dark and cryptic without being totally devoid of moments of tenderness and ‘good’ with the two main characters sharing some calm, intimate moments even as chaos looms at the horizon. I still have no idea what the hell the point of the film overall is, but I guess that’s high French art for you.
E: Haha, I have to admit I have as deep an understanding of it as you do, but it looks phenomenal and adds a lot of artistic value to the songs and Fange‘s mien overall. Striking visuals are difficult to come across these days as they’re more or less the same old, but in this case it’s obvious the band wanted to do something that looks like their own, and they pulled it off.
As for privation as a concept, I can’t but point out that there is – or has to be – a certain kind of implication and innuendo to it. It’s not like we’d be dealing with a Christian band here or anything even remotely in that vein, as it comes across as more of a blasphemous reference if anything. They have tapped into that lyrical and aesthetical source before too, so I’m not surprised this time’s no different.
D: Yeah, that’s true. If anything, the iconography is a contradiction of sorts when pushed up against the things around. Again, I do hope lyrics make their way online when this album drops to help contextualize things even more – an album like this deserves that.
This has been a trip though. Privation is likely my favorite Fange album so far. It’s all just so streamlined and meaty without losing the cold, unfeeling atmosphere or its edge in other areas. I’m delighted by it – as much as one could be from such a darkly proficient album. Eeli, what are some of your thoughts to close us out here?
E: Privation is one fucking trip to the callous lap of existentialism and artistically fluid savagery, and honestly you couldn’t expect nothing less from Fange. Where the album sets on their discography will be proven in due time, but for the time being, I can confidently say it’s up there in the band’s greatest efforts to date, for sure. As a closing note, all I have to add is that anyone who’s looking forward to hearing Privation, expect the unexpected and prepare to be demolished.