It’s rare to find a group that can deliver the emotiveness of a live performance in their recordings. But having emerged from the ashes of a number of Montreal experimental rock groups—among them Panopticon Eyelids, Pas Chic Chic, Red Mass, and Set Fire to Flames—Avec le soleil sortant de sa bouche have done exactly that. Bassist/singer/composer Jean-Sebastien Truchy (of Fly Pan Am) and guitarist/engineer Sebastien Fournier, along with a changing lineup of others, have been putting on enthralling live performances since 2011. Now, with Eric Gingras on guitar and Samuel Bobony on drums [Editor’s Note: Nasir Hasan is the drummer on Zubberdust!, later replaced by Bobony], they’ve translated the feeling of their live sets into a debut record that’s both sprawling and comprehensible, comprising two lengthy compositions (broken into shorter sections for CD and digital), “Face À L’instant” and “Super pastiche fantastique / New Sun”.
Avec le soleil have combined elements of funk, krautrock, pop, and more to develop an idiosyncratic sound. From the first track, they take no time transporting us into a world of their own, with its own peculiar language and mystique. From a driving rhythm of distorted guitar, it careens into a thicket of intermingling sounds, ranging from heavy cymbals to what might be sounds from a radio antenna. A huge, impassioned choral performance in “Face A L’Instant” fades into moving synth strings. Throughout the record’s many shifts in pace and instrumentation, the group uses repetition to their advantage, building layers of instrumentation over a driving bassline and precisely articulated percussion. The result is a delirious amalgam of a weird range of noises that still grooves.
In “Super pastiche fantastique”, Truchy’s wordless vocals are sharp and hysterical, flanked by the soft chirping of birds amid the tangle of instrumentation. Later on, we hear the chatter of people at a dinner party, or maybe an audience at a show, revealing a kind of self-reflexivity on the part of the band—and then the noise cuts out and we’re submerged in an electronic sea. It’s all incredibly fluid, with foreground and background constantly weaving in and out of each other, movements stopping abruptly only to be reintroduced later on. In the midst of all this chaos, Avec le soleil have proven their terrific capacity to meld these complex patterns of sound into a cohesive whole. The entirety of Zubberdust! has a continuous sense of live energy coursing through it.
Zubberdust! is due out September 30 via Constellation. Stream the full album below, and scroll down to read what JS Truchy has to say about the sounds of Avec le soleil sortant de sa bouche.
Impose: What’s zubberdust?
Zubberdust is Urdu for fantastic. Nasir brought it up and we all thought it sounded great. It has a certain ring to it and reminded us of Cluster’s Zuckerzeit.
You’re known for your riveting live performances. What’s the relationship between Avec le soleil’s live sets and the album?
The record goes further in arrangement and hints and nods to other genre of musics. Obviously, being able to multitrack and use a computer to edit and create layers of instruments, vocals and electronics enables you to push the limit of what is normally possible for a band to do in a live setting. We are as big fans of arrangements found in 60’s / 70’s pop as we are of electroacoustic, “experimental music” and synth music in general and we really wanted our music to reflect that (and I think it does to some degree). We wanted the record to be as rich sounding as possible as well as being musically interesting and surprising. To allow ourselves the impossible. Much more could have been done of course, but it’s a start. That said, we also wanted to capture our live sound and energy and I think that Radwan [that is, Radwan Moumneh, the sound engineer who recorded the album at Hotel2Tango studio in Montreal] did a great job at that.
The choral arrangement on “Face A L’instant” is infectious. How did that develop?
This goes back to the influence we find in 60’s pop vocal arrangement as well as in Afrobeat and other African music that have great and interesting uses of back vocals in relation to the main one. We wanted to find a way to create a dialogue with people that they could feel emotionally connected with and be fueled by, get strength from.
And the vocals on “Super pastiche fantastique”! What are you singing about?
As it has been stated before, I don’t use words. I don’t think I’m good enough with words to write clever lyrics (and let’s not talk about the trickiness of the concept of language), and so I sing feelings as if I were using words that everyone could understand. In a way, I’m trying to avoid language barriers. But to better answer the question, in “Super Pastiche…”, I am signing about the exhilaration of moving forward while facing adversity, and the strength that one feels while doing that.
On Zubberdust!, you’ve combined elements of krautrock, funk, and more, transcending genre boundaries. The record’s been described as avant- or kraut-funk—but how would you describe your sound?
I like to see things outside of the boundaries of concepts. Of course, in a world such as ours, it is a very hard thing to do as we are ruled by concepts and boundaries at all times (language, communication, thoughts, comprehension, organization on all levels, etc). In the case of music, I try to see it as what it is. Sound. Sounds put together, organized by a person. In doing so, I believe you can create without genres or boundaries, or at least try…
Myself, I’m still highly susceptible to certain things as “bad” and / or “good” taste, opinions of others, etc… That said, we do our best to not box up into a genre what we do but if we must, I think we would all go with pop music. We try to write catchy and interesting songs that are influenced by many genres of music. And I guess that what people perceive as “avant” is that we try not to repeat ourselves or what others have done. And I do hope we manage to do so. We are strong believers that everything gets recycled and brought back into a popular structure somehow, whether it is in visual or audio arts and we think that is what we do. Popular music done by people for people.