Dutch label Unsounds delivers Tout Ce Que Je Sais (meaning “All I Know”) from duo Anne-James Chaton and Andy Moor (LP/CD/DL) – released officially on June 1. The duo has been at it since 2006. Starting with the James Bond guitar riff on Casino rabelaisien we are off to the races. The lyrics are in French. The atmosphere has intermediate inflections of Sonic Youth and Joy Division, with distortions and a spoken word vocal that builds and becomes kin with the strings, emulating their vibration in a harmonic discourse. Chaton’s voice is unemotionally narrative and determined over Moor’s cranky meets misty guitar on the title cut (on which they previously collaborated with Thurston Moore). Magic, liberty and primitivism seem to have something to do with the (untranslated) story unfolding.
Le songe de Ludwig is much more moody, balancing a stern vocal with a downward din, and a shifting drone. When percussion bleeds into the mix (Coquins coquettes et cocus) the duo finds a sweet spot that defies the vestiges of post-rock. There’s a coyness to his sing-song vocal delivery here, complimented with curly guitar sonics. The percussion is likely by way of slapping and manipulating the guitar into a funky frenzy. It’s the highlight here. You can listen to excerpts of a few tracks here.
The manly timbre to Chaton’s voice starts to wear me down on Clair Obscur, where I’m reminded of some spoken projects by say, Blixa Bargeld. My focus moves only to the strings, but then at the end an audience applauds merrily surprising my ears as I had no idea it was live. The throaty speak meets a punctuated chord, interspliced with the narrator on The Things That Belong To William and I’m re-transported back into the mix. Are they invoking the spirit of William Burroughs? Is he dreaming while speaking in tongues, or in pain, or speaking from the grave? They saved this sweet surprise for the double-take finale. A perfect little mystery.