Words About Music
French artist Gautier Serre is someone who I’ve followed somewhat closely since I first came across the music released under his Igorrr label in late 2012, with the release of his 4th studio album, “Hallelujah.” This album sent me through a loop when I first heard it, with its dizzying mix of baroque classical music, opera, breakbeat/glitch-hop, and hardcore/metal sounds, with others mixed in for good measure. He would tone it down a bit with the collaborative Corpo-Mente album he released in 2015, but “Savage Sinusoid” is Igorrr’s first proper release in 4.5 years. And that’s exactly how long it sounds like it took Serre to put this extremely intricate album together. Everything that was weird about “Hallelujah” has been amped up here, with 80 minutes’ worth of ideas packed into just under half that.
Igorrr indicates one of the many directions he plans on taking “Savage Sinusoid” in the album’s first two minutes, with the song “Viande.” The album instantly hits you with a few seconds of incoherent screaming, as if to let you know that what you’re in for is going to make you feel as if you’re going mad. This proceeds right into a somewhat straightforward bit of metalcore. You’d be forgiven for thinking these riffs were from a Converge album, until the endurance test vocal yips and breakbeat passages total erase all doubt. It’s fuckin’ Igorrr. It even emulates dubstep at certain points with its rumbling, distorted sounds. Right off the bat, I love the intricate drumming and batshit ambition that colors the introduction of this album. From here, it only gets weirder.
The next track, “ieuD,” indulges more of Igorrr’s baroque characteristics with what sounds like a medieval lute or harpsichord soundtracking the operatic, theatrical vocals of this track’s male singer. It’s an intense opera, with the vocals eventually taking on the screamed tones of a hardcore punk or black metal vocalist. Twisting, synthesized drums take us into female opera vocals, with a passage that sounds like it’s straight off a Botanist record. Like the track’s male vocalist, the female vocalist toes the line between straightforward and punk energy. It’s a messy track, but intentionally so, with its songwriting misgivings being made up for with the unpredictability factor. I’m really digging the metal-inspired parts of this record, with Igorrr really dialing in these guitars, drums, and bass even more so than he did on “Hallelujah.” It’s clear he’s progressed a lot, and the breakbeat sections aren’t quite as gaudy or garish as they used to be. It’s a more polished Igorrr, a more accessible Igorrr.
After the all-too-abrupt ending on “ieuD,” we’re hit with all-out accordion-plus-blastbeats weirdness on “Houmous.” Horns are eventually added to the mix, making this sound like a mashup between Middle Eastern, polka, metalcore, and IDM. Styles that were never meant to be fused are being fused together, and I wonder if Serre’s stage-name relates to Dr. Frankenstein’s assistant, being as this album is like a Frankenstein’s Monster of eccentricities. Some might consider it weird for its own sake, but I feel like this album justifies its existence with the fantastic musicianship, consistency, and intricately placed sections. I also love the 8-bit video game sounds that coalesce with the slapped bass during the last 30 seconds of this track, and I feel like that’s a sound Igorrr could’ve explored more on this album.
“Opus Brain” is where I’m becoming less surprised with the album’s direction. We are hit with more hard-hitting metalcore inspirations taken with further exploration into glitchy electronics, with added female vocals for good measure. It’s perhaps as straightforward as an Igorrr song gets, and while it fits in smoothly with the rest of the record, I can’t see myself taking it out of the album’s context and listening to it on its own. It’s well written and well composed, I just wish there was more to it considering its length.
A soft piano opens up “Problème d’émotion,” with a 3/4 chord progression and some ambient, alien jazz noodling. Some strings settle into the mix, offering a nice break from the breakneck speed of Igorrr’s breakbeat streak. Its electronics are subtle at first, as the female vocalist’s chords intensify. It’s a composed way to complete the album’s first half, and I think it shows even more versatility from Igorrr than was initially thought possible. Its combination of rumbling buzzsaw bass and string-and-piano instrumentation may rub some the wrong way, but that seems to be Igorrr’s once and forever mission.
Just look at the song “Spaghetti Forever,” with its utopian title and baroque acoustic guitar playing. Just as quickly as the song begins, it immediately goes into a section that features live drums and more distorted synth leads. The black metal blastbeats serve as a foundation for more electronic glitches and choral vocals, serving as what has become Serre’s signature sound, especially for this album. Like “Opus Brain,” this track feels a bit jumbled and purposeless, fitting nicely in with the tracklisting but not necessarily being a standout track on its own. Once you’ve grown accustomed to Igorrr’s formula, it becomes difficult to miss, and it can make some of these songs feel like filler in comparison to more ambitious ones.
I think the album picks up again on “Cheval,” which sees the return of the accordion as well as the slappin’, Primus-esque bass riffage. It also gives us our first taste of proper death metal on the album, with guttural vocals serving their purpose for a brief bar. Some more dubstep-style bass-wobbles also find their way into this track, but a general rule I’ve come to find is that if you’re not enjoying a particular sound on an Igorrr album, wait 5 seconds and it’ll go away and be replaced by something else.
Metal continues to be a reference point on “Apopathodiaphulatophobie,” which sees more Nathan Explosion-esque death metal vocals. The lightning-speed drumming on this album continues to impress, as does the swath of diverse vocalists Igorrr has selected for this album. This track is pretty unhinged and intense for its brief 2 minutes, as is its even shorter follow-up, “Va te foutre,” which is an all-out brawl of sound and sonic interplay, even if it doesn’t really go anywhere.
“Robert,” the next track, feels more focused on the dance music elements of Igorrr’s music, with its Venetian Snares-esque drum patterns. It displays serious attention to detail, and embraces a series of sounds I don’t think I’ve ever heard before. It’s distorted, lo-fi, and messy, yet it comes together in a dynamic and memorable way, even as it continues to indulge some dated dubstep sounds.
The final song, “Au Revoir,” tries to once again break up the similarities between previous tracks by beginning with a dramatic, piano-centric beginning. I like the way this song tries to bridge more of a subtle build in between its softer first half and metal-breakdown second half. It’s a fairly predictable final song, and it doesn’t quite match the intensity that I think it should as one of the album’s bookends, but it’s appropriate and its consistent with the rest of the album.
Overall, I think that Igorrr’s ambition and excitement for fusing together different sounds tends to outshine his actual ability as an artist to create and compose. This leads to some tracks paling in comparison to others and leaving “Savage Sinusoid” feelings like an incomplete album. I feel like the more Gautier Serre releases, the closer he gets to putting out his true masterpiece. Right now, he’s pretty damn close, with some of his most infectious and enjoyable material popping up on this record. It’s not quite cohesive enough for me to say that I love it in its entirety, though. Regardless, I’m looking forward to what he does next, and I highly recommend that people who aren’t yet familiar with Igorrr’s music should definitely check him out, beginning with this album right here.
SCORE — 7.00 out of 10
FAVORITE TRACKS — Viande, ieuD, Houmous, Problème d’émotion, Cheval, Apopathodiaphulatophobie, Robert, Au Revoir
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