In the digital age, where trends, genres and bands can be discovered, loved and forgotten in a heartbeat, it’s important for artists to rise above and break free from the shackles which hold their peers down. With The Algorithm, Rémi Gallego managed to carve out a special place for himself and his music, which resonated with progressive metal and electronic music fans alike. His new project Boucle Infinie is also a head-turner, and it’s bound to catch the attention of those same metalheads who might find the ever-popular synthwave movement too far removed from their comfort zone to get into. This is because throughout his five-song EP 直線移動, he manages to blend post-rock and metal in with the aforementioned synthwave, creating a atmosphere which sounds more along the lines of Tycho or Explosions In The Sky than prominent acts in the synthwave scene, like Perturbator or GosT, who might turn listeners off.
However, Rémi didn’t stop there with this project. Within the five songs and 35 minutes of the record, trip-hop, IDM, and many more genres are meshed together with deft precision. For me, it was a release from the traditional sounds I’d heard in each respective genre, a new twist I hadn’t heard added to each one. I also felt familiar vibes from past ventures in experimental IDM (artists like Boards of Canada and Telefon Tel Aviv) leaping out at me, giving the album a futuristic feel.
The first track is an amazing way to blend together the first two genres I mentioned, whilst also giving die-hard The Algorithm fans a dabble of his other work. After a punchy bassline plays off against an ethereal guitar, the song kicks up a notch to a more classic synthwave sound, before all of a sudden erupting into post-rock. The guitars that kick in at this point are bellowing, the great tones waking you up from the trance-like effect of the opening minutes. Later in the track, we are moved to a more post-metal aesthetic, with the frenetic drums used by The Algorithm making an appearance. Worth noting is that the mix of this track (and indeed the entire EP) is gorgeous: the percussion sits perfectly at the peripheral, and the rest of the layers vie for control in the middle. Further down the album’s runtime, through tracks three and four, where the more experimental influences creep in, the sounds fly around the mix in a way similar to that of master composers Trifonic.
Like many others in the synthwave genre, Rémi deploys vocals in one of his songs, adding a different dynamic to the second track, “Inside”. Featuring the voice of Phillippe Charny, this track also uses electronic effects similar to those employed by Dan Terminus, in turn giving the track a ‘retro gamer’ feel to it and certainly cements it as the most ‘old-school’ friendly of the lot. I loved the layers used throughout this song, and especially in the climax, which sees the ethereal guitar solo in the background fighting off the synths, and the focused percussion putting the listener into a trance.
As mentioned previously, the next two tracks get really experimental. Whilst maintaining a bit of synthwave, Rémi really branched off into other genres like experiemental IDM and trip-hop. I could pick out influences from Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin, which appeared to me in the form of distorted, dreamy synths coupled with precise but overlapping beats. This combination creates a delectable and trippy palette of sound. The precision of the sounds used perfectly merges with the beautiful soundscapes which flow through each track, and one would do well to pay full attention to this EP and not just put it on in passing with stuff going on in the background.
In track four (“Meanings”) I immediately picked up on influences from Telefon Tel Aviv and The Flashbulb. The happy, yet somehow melancholic soundscape laid out on this track is mesmerising, and extremely chilled out compared to songs that The Algorithm fans might yearn after; for me, though, this is one of the best tracks Rémi’s ever created. There is so much happening all at once, but it’s so scrupulously organised that it’s hard to fault this track in any way whatsoever. The length is ideal, the song progressing gently without lurching from genre to genre, rather shifting between them effortlessly.
The final track of the record has a moody and dark feel to it, with an oppressive bassline holding together the synthwave- and experimental motifs, creating a really close and intimate atmosphere. A beautiful piano permeates the mix later on, and a genuinely sci-fi feel is subsequently introduced to 直線移動 as well. Throughout this EP, I felt like this is such an intelligent piece of work, with lots of attention paid to the subtle switches in the album. Without meaning to sound snobby, I think people really have to sit down and absorb themselves in the music to unlock its hidden meanings. Listening whilst distracted or with the volume low, I don’t think this EP’s true grandeur can be fully appreciated. Anyway, this spacey, trippy track zones out before exploding into yet another excellent post-rock climax. I was reminded heavily of soundtracks from films like 28 Days Later, Sunshine, and the horrible ending montages of Black Mirror whilst listening to this. Rémi gave a really moody, dystopic feel to the music here.
I think that this is a damn interesting EP from start to finish, with songs crafted at a level I really wasn’t expecting. I’d love to see Rémi score a movie soundtrack one day based off of this EP; the composition of the tracks and the way they progress subtly would be ideal for a dystopic movie, or TV show even. BUT: I will say that this is a real grower of a record, so make sure to give it time. Fans coming to check out a ‘classic’ synthwave album might be quite disappointed, but will hopefully appreciate the talent that is contained within these five tracks. 直線移動 pushes the boundaries of where the genre is heading, just like Perturbator‘s New Model, which got really dark, or Dan Terminus‘ Automated Refrains, which pushed the boat out with the electronic side of synthwave. For me, this is one of the electronic highlights in a year which has already had a lot of great releases from related artists. It’s going to appeal to a lot of listeners, and hopefully be a gateway for more people to interact with these other mentioned genres.
Notable Tracks: “System”, “直線移動”, “Meanings”
FFO: Perturbator, Boards Of Canada, The Algorithm, Explosions In The Sky