Thursday, 24 July 2008

Duchess Says - Anthologie des 3 Perchoirs

Duchess Says: Anthologie Des 3 Perchoirs

Being part of an occasional series in which new albums get some serious love…

Duchess Says hail from Montreal and deliver an album of such raw energy and power that it not only makes you sit up, it will seriously disturb neighbours five blocks away. This album buzzes like a jar of wasps. Singer Annie-Claude may look as though butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, but her vocals are furious, deformed beyond all normal recognition by electric hiss and static.

The band often sound as though they are (being) torn in two, a Cabaret Voltaire style primitive crackle and hum of electricity fighting tooth and claw with flailing guitars and pounding drums as band mates Phil, Simon and Ishmaël fight for supremacy. No wave lives!

The album purports to be a document referencing a religious cult known only as The Church of Budgerigars. Its origins are shrouded in mythology but are said to extend back to the turn of the last century. 'Duchess' is the spiritual budgie that speaks to us all.

Opening track 'Tenen No Neu' features percussive vocal explosions that mirror the music beneath. Tcha! Tcha!

'CCut Up' starts off deceptively quietly before a majorly dirty guitar riff kicks in. All accompanied by squealing vocals and electronic feedback. An absolute killer.*

'La Friche' has a prowling bassline and initially seems more straightforward, until the screamed chorus.

'Aeae' sounds like earlier experimentalists Chrome. It has a series of descending scales and a false ending, with the track then starting up again and heading off into a different direction.*

'Rabies (Baby's got the)' features the band name checking themselves before there is more vocoder work and screaming. A more conventional song taken very fast.

'A Century Old' starts with electronic hum and crackle complete with 50’s sci-fi theremin type effects. Vocals are breathy, gradually being drowned out as the buzzing gets ever louder and more distorted.

'Melon' is like a twisted version of ‘My Sharona’. Once again the guitar line and vocal synchronises, but this time there are synthetic hand claps, more distortion and another false ending.

'I’ve Got the Flu' is a percussive electro hissing that could almost come from the Eighties. A quieter, but no less disturbing, song than most on here.

'Black Flag' is the track that has gathered most attention elsewhere. Almost a ‘straight’ dance tune, it nevertheless raises eyebrows with its vocals that equate dancing in a club with religious mass. Even this track ends with an ear piercing electric shriek.

'Ch.O.B.' is almost a throw away, a minute long 100 mile an hour punk thrash. It leads into 'Les Résidents,' which is slow, dark and doomy. Sinister as hell and featuring the most treated and warped vocals yet.

'Lip Gloss Babla' is characterised by an eerie scraping sound and something that resonates like a battered trumpet. This is punctuated by occasional machine noise. It’s almost mellow in the context of everything else here.

The final track is listed on the album sleeve as ‘Prologue’, but comes up as ‘Gilbert’ on my ipod. Either way it is a five minute jam session, with the whole band thrashing out a noisy but rather aimless motorik.

Despite often being brutally uncompromising, the songs here are rooted in a pop sensibility. They are fun to listen to, even if they do often sound like body parts caught in a car engine. At a time when others seek to conform, Duchess Says are doing their own thing, with spectacularly effective results.

Strongly recommended, and available to purchase here.
*Can be heard on the band's myspace page

Oh, and here's a video of non album track 'In Serial'

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