Have you ever thought of sitting on a roller coaster blindfolded? You would have no idea when the next curve will hit you, or when will you be thrown upside-down. A short ride of complete unpredictability. That is how I feel every time a Dur et Doux promo shows up in EIN folders. Yet this time, I had a sense of security before I hit play on Vaisseau Monde, having already absorbed Poil in all their earlier incarnations. Only to be toppled, throw around, and slammed by Le Grand Sbam!
Le Grand Sbam consists of Poil’s Antoine Arnera, Boris Cassone, and Guilhem Meier – playing keyboards, bass, and drums respectively – along with Mélissa Acchiardi on vibraphone and percussion, and vocalists Jessica Martin Maresco and Marie Nachury. Inspired by the French Zeuhl legends Magma, the band delivers 38 minutes of a roller coaster avant-garde musical journey. From glitch electronics to noise rock to pure classical segments, the music flows in all directions imaginable.
Even before you can take a breath after hitting play, “Dins o sbam” comes charging out and knocks you out. As you recover, the voices in your head tell you that you are listening to a whole ensemble of vocalists, when in reality, it is just the two throwing every imaginable sound your eardrums. By the time you realize you have suffered a concussion in your head just with the opening six-and-a-half minutes, you are in the hypnotic tribal land of “Les lotus ont fleuri, je suis assis à côté d’un éléphant aux oreilles usées.” Quite literally the elephant in the room (the longest track on the album), it perfectly encapsulates the very essence of Vaisseau Monde. Using every imaginable sound possible, Le Grand Sbam zig-zag through everything, sounding like modern opera for a minute and a scratched vinyl record for the very next. The musical composition makes the two voices sound just like another instrument thrown in the foray, while the instruments seem to sing their own notes.
What I love about such impossible-to-place albums are the finer details that one can catch with attentive listening, and this one is no different. If one manages to keep the focus of all the shenanigans thrown at them, “Woubit” offers a peek into the intricacies that make up Vaisseau Monde. What a casual listener may dismiss as random and haphazard, is, in reality, smaller repetitive bits that layer over one another and come together to create the ‘bigger than the sum of its parts’ sound one experiences. It is only when things have calmed down in the above-mentioned track and the album closer “Vishnu Foutrôline”, that one discovers how the vocal motifs are saliently used to join two dissimilar segments of the track, giving a sense of a smooth transition despite the intended jagged effect it gives to the listener.
There is a theatrical element to Vaisseau Monde that is hard to put into words. It is clearly not meant for all, but those that can digest its twists and leaps, and who enjoy the invigorating challenge it presents. If that is you, hop on the Le Grand Sbam bus and witness the best freak show in the world!