La Riviere de Plomb - Modern Men ft. Stéphane Miollan

24 Nov 2021 - Thorsten

Raspy Doom, Dark Ambient, Folk | Soza | Release date: 20 Jun 2021

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A few months ago, the author of these lines released a raving review of an album by a “band” (maybe more of a collective?) called ÂGE ⱡ TOTAL and still there is no week when I do not give that record a listen. Some time after this review there was a promo email for a record by a band called Modern Men. However, we all know what Lennon said about life and plans and so on and so here I am – struck by how stupid I have been not reviewing this record by Modern Men and featuring Stéphane Miollan quite late because it is really mesmerizing!

Everyone following this webzine has surely already spent some time deconstructing bands like SunnO))), Boris or other Drone artists, as there was a time when that kind of music was the hot stuff. The hype has cooled off but the search for that sound of course not. And here is the point where Modern Men and Stéphane Miollan step onto the stage, because their collaborative record La Riviere de Plomb (Engl. “The River full of lead”) is in some ways based on drone sounds. Nevertheless, their approach is on the other side quite different to the amp worshippers from Japan and the US, for there is also a lot of Machinefabriek or Merzbow on this record.

The record is basically instrumental but makes extensive use of (distorted) samples from what seems to be citizen’s band signals/copies that are cut into such short pieces that they are near inaudible. The other thing that sets the guys apart is their use of the piano – for they are (like John Cage) using it in a rather unclean and harsh way, “hammering” onto the keys so that the single notes reverb that tiny bit too much and in the end they all blend a bit creating a kind of dreamy state; compare ”Le Soleil Se Lève” (“the sun rises”) and the way it feels as if one first feels those first rays of sunshine before the sun really dawns and fills the air with warmer air and one can see the little flakes of dust dance in the rising light.

The third “side” of this record are those songs which are based on some form of very sparse, distorted blues, with ”Tour De Garde” (“the watchtower”) being a perfect example. And then there are the songs which combine one or two of these elements, like ”Uniformisation Par Le Fer Et La Rouille” (“Uniformization through iron and rust”) where the sparse, raspy blues sounds hit on the droney side of things and ebbs into a form of doomy noise with the guitar elements oscillating extremely.

To put it in a nutshell, if you want to hear a musical equivalent to Mark Lanegan’s voice with all its raspy, hoarse character – then listen to this record because Modern Men and Stéphane Miollan have created a record that will scare away many people and yet not haunt them in their dreams. You like Boris and Machinefabriek, Merzbow and Sunn O)))? Listen to this wonderful collaboration! You already know about ÂGE ⱡ TOTAL and their enigmatic approach to doom? Then this is a must! Rouen’s Soza Label is starting to turn into one of these tiny spots one should follow if you have an ear for things out of the ordinary. La Riviere De Plomb surely is extraordinary and out of the ordinary: Hoarse, sparse doom meets Drone meets Blues. Tres bien, ceux-ci Rouennais!