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(54:19; Compagnie 4000)
This is the third album by Polymorphie, yet another member of the Lyon-based experimental collective Grolektif which includes the likes of PoiL, Chromb and ni. It is only in the last few years that I have started investigating these bands, when my musical tastes finally became broad enough to gain some sort of understanding (a bit like when I finally told my dad I liked Guinness, or broad beans, things I didn’t appreciate when I was younger). Composer, saxophonist, and keyboard player Romain Dugelay is yet again at the helm, assisted by Marine Pellegrini (vocals), Simon Girard (trombone), Damien Cluzel (guitar) and Leo Dumont (drums). It has been six years since their last release, ‘Cellule’, and each album has so far seen a slightly different line-up, but only Simon was not there on the debut, and it is actually the first time they have used a trombone. In some ways, Polymorphie can be seen as an extension of Kouma, which is a trio combining Romain, Damian and Leo, but while the chaotic and experimental music is at the core of everything they do, the fragile and clear vocals of Marine take it into different directions. Musically this is all I would expect from any band coming from the Grolektif collective, in that it is RIO, experimental, challenging, and very unlike anything else I have heard outside. Here they utilise a selection of 10 ancient and contemporary poems (Cohen, Neruda, Eluard, Pasolini...), normally in French, narrated by Marianne in her breathy and delicate style, and then the music takes over. I noticed that while the tracks all have people’s names against them on Bandcamp, I presume these relate to the original poems as on my version they have different titles, so the one English song is marked as “Leonardo” on Bandcamp, but on my version it is “Need For Speed”. My lack of French means I listen to the lyrics and vocals as another instrument, which is not an issue for me, but I am sure if I could understand what was being depicted so passionately then I would gain even more from what is an incredible album. Post-rock, jazz, experimental, RIO, there are lots going on here, but it is so off the beaten path that one needs a machete to cut through the undergrowth. The vast majority of people who come across this will not understand it, but for those of us who are always looking for something more unusual than the normal pap then this is a delight from beginning to end. Lyon is a hotbed for some of the most interesting and boundary pushing music out there, and Polymorphie are back with another winner. Let’s hope it is not so long until the next one.
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