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(33:06; Dur et Doux)
CHROMB! are back with their fourth album, which this time sees them taking inspiration from 13th Century cleric and knight Gervais de Tilbury and his work, ‘Livre des Merveilles’, which was the third part of his ‘Otia imperialia’ encyclopaedic work. Apparently the band have taken segments of this into their lyrics, but whether they sing in the original Latin or the French version which became popular during the Middle Ages I cannot say, seeing as how I am a lazy Pom and am only (nearly) fluent in one language. This means the words become part of the music for me, which in this aspect is a shame as research shows this is still an interesting publication even to this day (de Tilbury is sometimes referred to as the first ever European folklorist). No matter what the inspiration or lyrical intrigues taking place, CHROMB! are a band who musically refuse to conform (even down to always having their name in capitals), performing as a quartet without guitars, and creating music which is always RIO/avant, challenging the listener at every turn. The line-up is the same of course, with Leo Dumont (drums, percussion, objects), Camille Durieux (keyboards, synths, vocals), Lucas Hercberg (bass, synth, vocals) and Antoine Mermet (alto sax, delay, synths, vocals) and again they have produced an album which I find incredibly intriguing, intense, and totally indescribable, but I will try anyway. When I reviewed their last album, ‘10000’, I said their music “takes Zappa, Soft Machine, The Residents, John Zorn and Art Zoyd into logical and illogical extremes, blending sounds which have no place being put together, to create something which is strangely enthralling and enticing while at the same time also being harsh and abrasive.” That is true again with this album, except at times I also find myself thinking of religious music, with long held-down chords reminding me of hymns being sung in a church with a stone vaulted ceiling, or at least it would if it didn’t sound like someone was being killed at the same time (“Les Chevaliers qui Apparaissent”). This is music that stretches the listener, taking them into areas which are sometimes frightening, but also compelling so there is no opportunity whatsoever to turn away. This four-track album may only be 34 minutes long, but when it is playing the rest of the world disappears and this is the only thing which matters. There is a love/hate relationship with CHROMB!, as either listeners will hate them and have no idea what is going on and why anyone can attempt to listen to this, while others will embrace this and feel the world is a better place by having bands and musicians like this in it. I know which side I am on; do you feel brave enough to have your listening challenged by a band pushing extremes? You should.
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