Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Miriodor - Signal 9 (CUNEIFORM RECORDS May 12, 2017)

Progressive Vets Miriodor Send an Otherworldly Message on Signal 9

Signal 9

stream: @SoundCloud / @Bandcamp / @YouTube

Cat. #: Rune 438, Format: CD / Digital Download
Genre: Rock / Avant-Progressive
Release Date: May 12, 2017

"Metaphorically, we could say that Miriodor is a planet, with aliens communicating in their mysterious ways with planet Earth," says Miriodor's keyboardist, Pascal Globensky. In that sense, the long-lived Montreal band's ninth album, entitled Signal 9, could simply be considered the ninth set of musical messages from that exotic heavenly body.

It's been more than three decades since Miriodor sent out its first signal with the release of Rencontres. Since then, they've established themselves as premier practitioners of the RIO (Rock In Opposition) movement, a wing of progressive music pioneered by the likes of Henry Cow, Art Zoyd and Univers Zero that embraces the avant-garde in its agenda of challenging convention at every turn.

The Miriodor discography, most of which has been released on U.S maverick institution Cuneiform Records, has been building strength upon strength with each successive album. The band combines jazz, classical, rock, and international influences for an arresting, idiosyncratic sound that eludes description but remains immediately identifiable as Miriodor.

Picking up where the most recent coded message from planet Miriodor, 2013's Cobra Fakir, left off, Signal 9 arrives like an invitation to an otherworldly voyage. Each track marks another twist and turn in a journey across strange, captivating landscapes populated by creatures, crafts, and constructions whose like has never been glimpsed outside the band's idiosyncratic ecosystem.

Globensky, drummer Rémi Leclerc, and guitarist Bernard Falaise have expanded Miriodor to a quartet with the addition of bassist Nicolas Lessard as a full-time member. Accordingly, the band works like a one eight-handed, four-brained organism here, operating more organically and collectively than ever.

And while Miriodor often forges some of their heaviest sounds to date over the course of Signal 9, the album is also loaded with off-the-wall humor and some beautiful, contemplative melodic moments. The combination makes for some crafty contrasts, frequently flipping back and forth drastically from one mood to another multiple times within a single composition for a jarring-but-thrilling effect.

The album's opening track, "Venin" (French for venom), begins with what sounds very much like some sort of alien craft revving up for takeoff. The trip begins in earnest with a series of knotty, hard-hitting riffs that alternate with quieter passages and woozy seesaw-ride evocations, for a schizophrenic feel that's right in keeping with Signal 9's sense of dizzying sonic delirium.

The herky-jerky stabs of melody and rhythm that begin "Peinturé dans le coin" are followed quickly by a muscular but jazzy groove not a million miles from the dark, heavy Zeuhl style popularized by French prog legends Magma. "Transit de nuit à Jakarta" stretches strange, electronically manipulated sounds tersely across a syncopated sort of futuristic funk feel.

On "Portrait-robot," a King Crimson influence seems to come to the fore, via crushing guitar and bass riffs slamming up against a backdrop of orchestral-sounding keyboards. But the album's characteristic tongue-in-cheek humor comes into play when these ominous doings give way to a sudden onslaught of what could only be called circus music.

"Déboires à Munich" combines discordant guitar stabs with a hurtling rhythm, punctuated by shards of wordless, highly processed vocals and wobbling keyboards. Everything but the kitchen sink gets thrown into "Chapelle lunaire",  from doomy, apocalyptic throbbing to amiable jazzy ambles that recall U.S. jazz-rockers The Muffins, and some feverishly intense, intricate interplay between the men of Miriodor.

By the time the journey progresses to "Chapelle lunaire", all the sharp, unexpected transitions should come as a given. But that still doesn't prevent a touch of scintillating surprise when the track's lambent, jazzy guitar and keyboard lines rub up against markedly more arch, angular sonic tapestries. And the proceedings reach an apogee of idiosyncrasy with the twisted carnival sounds of "Gallinule d'Amérique," coming off like a circus band jamming with Frank Zappa and The Residents in a strobe-lit hall of mirrors.

After the relatively low-key respite of "Douze petites asperges," with its gentle, almost Tortoise-like post-rock textures, Signal 9's strange, stirring trip takes its final turn, as the ship starts coming in for a landing. The album's final track, "La ventriloque et le perroquet," opens up with what sounds like a pool of bubbling lava before leading into keyboard-led lattices of inviting weirdness, ultimately collapsing into a tower of Babel were manipulated voices become instruments on a pointillist canvas.

Once you return to your everyday life after emerging from the alternative universe of Signal 9, the whole album seems like some kind of fever dream you've just emerged from. But the big difference is that it's a dream you're eager to leap right back into again.

Once captivated by the music on Signal 9, you’ll not want to miss seeing this amazing band live. Miriodor will celebrate Signal 9’s release by touring Europe in September 2017, where they’ll perform at the Rock in Opposition Festival in Carmaux, France ; on a double-bill with Yugen in Milan (Italy), and at the FreakShow Art Rock festival in Wurzburg (Germany) in addition to playing at other European venues. Following its return to Canada, Miriodor will be performing in its Montreal hometown.




Cap D'ecouverte
Le Garric 81450, France

September 22 IT La Casa di Alex
Milano, Italy

September 23-24      DE  Freakshow Art Rock Festival
Wurzburg, Germany