02 November 2010

Transbeauce: "Restless Sounds"

My thanks to Christophe, of Transbeauce, for keeping me in the loop!

February 2009, in the nascent days of SlowdiveMusic Blog, I wrote about Tranbeauce’s discography (link), and even had the opportunity to then interview the band (link, interview both in English and French). Discovering Transbeauce’s music started my obsession with the French music scene, as well as really taking the time to listen to more ambient electronic music. Transbeauce is among the bands that have given me a greater appreciation for modern music that lacks vocals (for the most part) and have also helped me to redefine the idea of “ambience” and experimentation in music. This is one of the most talented bands out there, and for fellow fans I have bad news: you will have to wait till April 2011 for a new album. But every dark cloud has a silver lining; today, Transbeauce releases “Restless Sounds” (2 November 2010) – a compilation of unreleased songs, live recordings, demos, and tracks from English and French compilations.

So, where do we start?

First, there are four unreleased tracks. “Chien” [“Dog”] has a Spanish style (acoustic) guitar that juxtaposes its luscious sound to the electronic soundscape. “Factory” is one of the most brilliant songs I’ve heard. This instrumental uses slight industrial sounds (what else could we expect?) that passively drone over and over in sequence, with little variance. It is the sonic metaphor for the reality of factory workers: little changes, little moves, just the same ceaseless motion over and over again. As a piece of critical mediation, this is an amazing statement. “979” (one of three songs titled by numbers) is an unreleased track from “Die Mitte.” Perfect post-punk guitar arrangements, perfect use of keys for ambience, perfect slow build up – though only five-and-a-quarter, you feel (willingly) trapped inside the greatest of epics. (Why was this not on the album?!?) “Time Goes By” (featuring Laetitia Sheriff) is the final unreleased track on the album. And even though this one includes vocals, their arrangements work in tandem with the musical arrangements to produce a single, visceral effect.

We are also treated to the demo of “The Inside.” I love demos because you can experience all of the steps a band has taken in order to get to the final product. Oftentimes, the final product sounds nothing like the original idea, as creation is constantly an evolutionary process. Furthermore, with demos you can really hear the musical references a band is working from, in this case the early 80s post-punk era.

From the British “Spymania” compilation, there is “015354,” a short ambient number, carried by a wispy arpeggio, that leads directly into “042337,” just as ambient, but longer and darker, playing with tones and subtle sound effects. From the French “Je suis un étranger” [“I Am a Stranger”] compilation, there is the playful “Sven” (with all of its vocal sound effects and a sexy, dark bass line) and “Ska,” which is broody, introspective, and harrowing, without being gloomy, oppressive, and dark.

Finally, there are two live tracks. “Live M” was recorded at the legendary “salle de concert,” Maroquinerie. The other, one of my favorite songs by Transbeauce, is a live performance (featuring Palma) of “Dreassed in Black Berlin.” With vocals, again, their arrangements do not detract from the music, but works with the music for a singular effect.

And that is the thing about Transbeauce’s music: many electronic bands, who experiment with the ambient, are all over the place; Transbeuace, however, are the Edgar Allan Poe of music – everything is done for a singular effect. The music is not all over the place, the arrangements are never competing one against the other; instead everything works together to have a singular visceral effect and amazing listening experience. If you have not discovered the world of Transbeauce yet, take the plunge. If you have, “Restless Sounds” will definitely give you enough to hold out until this coming April’s new release.

Track Listing:
1. The Inside
2. 015354
3. 042327
4. Chien
5. Factory
6. Live M
7. 979
8. Sven
9. Ska
10. Time Goes By
11. Dressed in Black Berlin

Keep up with Transbeauce at their homepage, MySpace, and Facebook.

Here are two tracks from the LabelNoko YouTube Channel (that I am reposting). The first is a live performance of “Dressed in Black Berlin.” The second is a track not included on this compilation, but most definitely my favorite track by Transbeauce till date: “The Stars Are Black”

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