It’s absolutely fine to look at this bunch of words and see it as a review. Sure, there is ‘review’ written in the title, but just to clarify: This is an ode. An ode to Igorrr. An artist who is with me since many years, and one of the main reasons I’m so desperate to push the boundaries of my musical horizon ever outwards; yet his music also gave me the humility to realize that I truly know nothing. I’ll explain to you what I feel about Igorrr’s newest work, Savage Sinusoid, but first, I’ll let you in on how he changed my aesthetic and artistic perception.
My first contact with Igorrr was back in 2010, when I got my hands on Nostril. The cover really spoke to me, reminding me of one of my favorite movies, Seul contre tous aka I Stand Alone by Gaspar Noé. The music, on the other hand, distracted me at the beginning; I simply couldn’t handle what happened! It ranged from aggressive and confusing up to full-blown cacophonic, but he certainly got my attention. Similar to my relationship with Psyopus, I was so fascinated by and subsequently trapped in the world of Igorrr (who goes by the name Gautier Serre in real life) that I forced myself to get into his music. I’ve bought the Baroquecore EP, Moissiure and Poisson Soluble and delved headfirst into this weird sonic cosmos consisting of glitch, breakbeat, death metal, baroque, cybergrind and an overall avant-garde approach to composition and arrangement. And then, after some weeks of intense mortification, it clicked.
Since then, I think of Igorrr as one of the most forward-thinking, intense and peerless artist I’ve ever had the honor to experience, and I was beyond stoked when I found out that, after the shutdown of his old label Ad Nauseam, he’s found a new home at Metal Blade Records, and will release his fifth full-length album Savage Sinusoid on June 16.
A personnel match made in heaven
I felt like a child on Christmas when I received Savage Sinusoid. Like, pure, childish euphoria and astonishment. And yet again, I sensed distraction at first. Metal all over the place! Did Igorrr make advances towards the metal community, being on the roster of big player Metal Blade Records now? No way, someone who is as artistically independent as Gautier Serre would never try to please a community for the sake of acceptance! He just wouldn’t, right? A crisis of meaning crawled up my mind, but was belied more and more with every listening session. Savage Sinusoid‘s soundscapes opened up before me, took me by the hand just to punch me in the stomach with its wide variety of different elements and sounds. Deeper and deeper I delved into its confusions, into its tonal world of surprising changes, cognition, grandeur and filth.
Igorrr grew from just being Gautier Serre into being a collective of talented musicians, which seems to have developed an intense symbiosis of different musical backgrounds, approaches and tastes. The return of two cornerstones in Igorrr‘s music, in the person of Laurent Lunoir and the graceful Laure Le Prunenec, is like coming home to old friends. Lunoir’s (who also works with Serre on his main project Öxxö Xööx) crazy and versatile guttural voice exudes a Mike Patton-esque eccentricity and infuses so many layers and dynamics into this record. Le Prunenec (who works with Lunoir on her solo project Rïcïnn and with Serre on Corpo-Mente) brings her very own exalted presence to the music, refining some tracks with her outstandingly great operatic voice and an extraordinary portion of her distinguished grace. On top of that triarchy of sound joins Trepalium‘s Sylvan Bouvier, who delivers a drum performance par excellence, and shines as a main element of Savage Sinusoid‘s great balance of digital and acoustic elements. You can also hear the powerhouse which is Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitation on three tracks! Nils Cheville, best known for his work on Pryapisme and Corpo-Mente, is responsible for the magnificent classical guitar parts; Pierre Mussi and Yann Le Glaz deliver astonishing performances on the accordion and saxophone; and last but not least, Anthony Miranda and Katerina Chrobokova ennoble some tracks with sitar and harpsichord. It’s important to me to name all of these people, to register how much of Savage Sinusoid was recorded with real instruments, played by real human beings with incredibly gifted abilities to realize Serre’s vision, but who were also entrusted with enough freedom and space to express their own voice and make every musical element an audible highlight. Also a big applause for Hervé Faivre for being a magical, extra-terrestrial sound engineer, capturing all of those instruments and elements in a very organic way.
What’s left after the praise and amazement?
After praising Gautier Serre and his comrades for creating Savage Sinusoid, I guess I have to finally actually say something about this album itself.
Savage Sinusoid tells stories. Your stories. One great thing about Igorrr is that he never dictates the way his music needs to be experienced. All the vocalists sing their own lyrics, in their own language; they put their own heart into the tracks. And that’s exactly what happens with you while listening to this album. Besides all the aggression, the confusing and frantic arrangement, the crazy instrumental passages and the immensely beautiful calm moments, the record encourages you to create your own story. It’s your canvas, and in creating a soundscape to comfort and confuse your mind, it fools your expectations while giving you exactly what you sought for in the next moment (which could actually be the same in some cases).
Igorrr’s music invites you to analyze every bit of it, which can be an exceptionally exhausting task. To understand every element, you need to anatomize this record into tiny little pieces, which includes the risk to lose one’s view for the big picture. But that’s what this record is all about: How far can music go? It’s humbling to realize that you experienced something beyond all comprehension, beyond the need to examine the living daylight out of it, even though it may seduce you to do so. I’m still trying to resist. Sure, I can’t always restrain my mind, but I try very hard. And so should you. Praise this record for its complexity and weirdness, but please don’t fall for the impression that this is all there is. This is just a key to become something bigger, something much more meaningful and intimate. It’s an experience, a journey to your inner self and to the sound of your heart.
‘There are these rare moments when musicians together touch something sweeter than they’ve ever found before in rehearsals or performance, beyond the merely collaborative or technically proficient, when their expression becomes as easy and graceful as friendship or love. This is when they give us a glimpse of what we might be, of our best selves, and of an impossible world in which you give everything to others, but lose nothing of yourself.’
Ian McEwan, Saturday
Notable Tracks: “ieuD”; “Opus Brain”; “Spaghetti Brain”
FFO: Frédéric Chopin, Aphex Twin, Meshuggah, mind-bending in general