François J. Bonnet + Stephen O’Malley | Cylene
Editions Mego (2xLP)
Shadow and twang gently emanate, wafting in soft atmospheric drones as Première Noire starts its ghostly cycle. The placid howl as shaded cadences swirl, and the album starts to set sail, taking hold of the inner ear on Erosion Always Wins. French author/composer François J. Bonnet joins Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley and the pages rise and fall in a vortex of transmissions that course through space like a couplet gone rogue. That’s not to say this is by any glance uncontrolled or hasty, its rather a deeply moody vision.
By whispering, lingering, and writhing in the darkness – rather than screaming into the faces of unready accomplices, this finds its sweet spot in Pāhoehoe, an ambient work of light and substance. I’m reminded of many early Thrill Jockey and Kranky records, those where the faded echoes of twang could hold your attention deeply into their last gasp of fade out. This also has something in common with the warm-weary textures of today’s gothic dark ambient (so to speak), the stepchild of the shoegazer era, now all grown up. It’s the type of sound that stares endlessly into the stars, pondering what may lay far beyond the last twinkle. Herein is built the uncertainty of tomorrow, bathed in its post-apocalyptic slowness.
The duo tweaks the core of the most minimal of orchestration via Deuxième Noire, keeping the goings-on abrupt and as mysterious as humanly possible. If you were in a foul mood this may zap your consciousness into general malaise, if you were happy-go-lucky you could be susceptible to a quieting lethargy. In that, there is a level of balance, of calming – not that this is a record built for your mental health status, but its tones intermittently mirror the bellows of the mind.
Throughout there are downward lying chords and windgusts that may fall to the background, but hold significant weight, subliminal or not. Dernières Teintes Noires seems to keep that base, but turns the light on. Here you find harmony by way of graceful industrialism, and if you thought that not possible, I dare you to engage this track and say otherwise. It is fueled by obscurity, but somehow comes off incredibly soothing, hypnagogic. And they leave you with their fairly lengthy Des Pas Dans Les Cendres (15:12) which sort of seizes the entire concept of the previous works en masse, with a fully realized work of utopian drone. While some may look at this as an absent theory, again, I recommend taking to the looking glass and simply pretend your hand mirror is capturing a selfie, just in reverse.