Les Georges Leningrad
Sur Les Traces De Black Eskimo
ur Les Traces De Black Eskimo begins with a spoken word skit describing a man called Gary, who's apparently gone a bit funny from being on a tour bus for too long, or something, with his demented screeching audible in the background. I'm not a screech expert, but I'd say it's a pretty good screech. It doesn't sound like the forced screech of a sane man being wacky for his band. Certainly it'd be a bit disappointing to think that a band that made a noise like this would go home afterwards and have a nice well-adjusted conversation about the awesome screeching they laid down earlier. When the song proper begins, the falsetto vocal and electro percussion make it sound oddly like Scissor Sisters, or at least like their reanimated corpses being forced to sing undead drone noise forever. Meanwhile, the troubled Gary's mantra of 'LET ME DRIVE' is repeated catatonically. It's, y'know, it's pretty weird.
Anyway, for the most part this is a more focused, intensive version of the group’s 2002 dadaist/mentalist art-punk debut; a simplistic, pounding rhythm section with atonal synth/guitar noises and various incomprehensible yelps, gibbers, and shrieks on top of it. And That's It. “Black Eskimo” begins with a couple of isolated stabs of that pan-pipey synth sound, which sounds a bit like “Open Your Heart” by the Human League cheerily wandering in, slowly realising how much danger it's in, and then being promptly flattened by a load of Joy Division machine drumming. The same fuzzy bass riff and synth squiggle repeat maddeningly throughout the whole thing; it almost seems wrong to call it a 'hook', but it's so relentless it ends up being memorable anyway. “Pekin Pekin,” from a similar beginning, devolves into an intense and hugely enjoyable mess, with a tuneless two-chord guitar riff, more screaming and gloriously atonal sax squalls.
“Wunderkind #2” resembles a more frenetic but no less deranged DNA, all no-wave shrieking and guitars that sound like knives, and “Fifi F” is what synth-pop probably sounds like in hell, or just when it's been remixed by V/VM, which is essentially the same thing. You could, theoretically, dance to it. A lot of the more immediately appealing stuff is like this, chaotic and noisy but underpinned with a curiously propulsive rhythmic drive. A bit like Liars minus the prophetic mumbling about witches n'shit. The Concept here is apparently something to do with the titular Eskimo, though I don't have the patience to try and decipher the specifics, and it'd probably defeat the point a bit anyway.
There's an impressively manic focus to the whole thing, and they do a good job of twisting their reference points to fit their uh, vision, like an ominous B-movie black sludge that spreads and yanks everything else into it. Track 7—ah, it ate PiL. Huh. Some of the ambient noodly interludes break up the momentum a bit, and the unending tirade of wackiness can wear thin at points, but it's much like the Fall, in that it piques your curiosity by being weird and impenetrable, and then before you know it it's beaten its way into your brain and reconfigured it to enjoy the assault.
After 35 minutes of being bombarded in this manner, the last track “Comment Te Dire Adieu” is an interesting sidestep; it sounds like the end product of a primary school music lesson, whereas one of the earlier interludes evokes the random cacophony before it's started and everyone's just heedlessly bashing away at an instrument. Sparse percussion and a much more restrained chaos are interrupted every now and then by a simplistic little xylophone refrain, which after the previous racket sounds so absurdly delicate you could almost call it pretty. But still, in its own way, kind of insane.
Reviewed by: Fergal O’Reilly
Reviewed on: 2005-02-07