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A review of...
L'Aurore by Yeti Lane
Parisian duo's long awaited follow up to 2012's The Echo Show
In my review of Yeti Lane's last album The Echo Show, I suspected that "a promising new era may well follow", partly because the record seemed to be a transition piece from their lighter, folky beginnings to something darker and more complex. And whilst The Echo Show is a good, but flawed album, it seemed like a step in a new direction. The only thing I didn't bank on was the fact that it would take four more years for Cédric Benyoucef (vocals, guitar) and Charlie Boyer (drums, electronics) to show us all the exact place that they were travelling to.
The good news is that, in taking that four year hiatus, the band have come back with an album that feels much more accomplished. Right from the brilliantly dark opening bars of "Délicat" there's a palpable air of confidence to this record. The duo were apparently newly inspired by playing shows with The Brian Jonestown Massacre and Damo Suzuki from Can. The former of which probably accounts for the fact that they sound raw and rough around the ages on this record (they admit that they "chose takes in which we felt something was happening, rather than the ones in which we were playing perfectly"). The shows they did with Suzuki were completely improvised, and whilst this album is far more structured than that, the songs seem to have more space to breathe than they did on previous releases. It should also be noted that the duo have recorded some freeform, improvised sessions in Berlin with Anton Newcombe and Primal Scream's Barrie Cadogan, sadly, these mouth-watering recordings remain unreleased.
One of the other notable changes on L’Aurore, sees Benyoucef singing in his native tongue for the first time It actually took me a while to realise this, which probably says a lot about the sheer sonic barrage and the amount of stuff going on generally. It also make the record sound all the more mysterious to this GCSE French dropout.
Musically speaking, the theme of this record seems to be despair and dystopia, the sounds are, more often than not, bleak. Yeti Lane say that the primary influence on this record, despite their musical connections, was the world around them, so there's no wonder that things have taken a darker turn. "Liquide" is probably peak moribund, with its morbidly downbeat vocal turn and ominous synth backing that sounds like it was swiped from a 1980s sci-fi flick. Elsewhere, there's ample dirty guitar, a dizzying array of synthesisers and vocal overdubs which add an angelic lightness of touch to an otherwise densely packed album.
Yeti Lane seem to have found their wonderful dark musical destiny.
"Délicat" - this album opener sets the tone for Yeti Lane's new approach to music. Gloomier, more drawn out and more engaging than anything they've achieved previously.
"Ne Dis Rien" - the band choose to close the record on a slightly more hopeful note. There's a prominent guitar hook which, again, sounds like some sort of European sci-fi theme, but this time it would come in when the goodies have triumphed against all odds. The drums and swirling synths that creep in at the end propel the song to something which might even border on euphoria.