The Other Colours: 361

Previously trading under the name Rose et Noir, The Other Colours is a duo comprised of Laurent Chambert and Marie Möör. The latter’s musical past is explicitly referenced on ‘Mes Yeux Bleus dans Tes Yeux Noirs’, which quotes a lyric from Marie’s ‘Pretty Day’, a cult early-80s item exhumed by the essential ‘BIPPP French Synth Wave 1979-85’ compilation. However, ‘361’ is not really about backward glances (well not in a musical sense, although the pair do claim to be “fascinated by eyes”); rather, it picks up the baton of cold wave’s melancholy futurism, running with a vision of pop music that is, in the group’s own words “original, simple, strange, complex and magic.” 

The pair’s roles are divided up clearly: Marie vocals and lyrics, Laurent composition, recording, arranging, mixing. Marie’s voice is both cold and kittenish, sometimes appearing as a little-girl-lost echo or enhanced to create robo-melismatic effects. There are a fair number of spoken-word passages as well, in which the lyrics are delivered in a consciously poetic manner – The Other Colours would not take ‘arty’ as a criticism.

Laurent’s productions, meanwhile, tread a line between amniotic warmth and dissociative oddness. Opener ‘Les Autres Colours’ is a walk down an alien corridor, rendered via hysterically high pitch-shifted vocal squiggles, trickling water and shifting panes of atonal noise. “Ou suis je?” asks Marie, quite reasonably. That leads into ‘Aucune Blessure’ which is reminiscent of Scott Walker’s post ‘Climate of Hunter’ recordings. The album’s sweet pop centrepiece is undoubtedly the absurdly catchy ‘Rendez-Vous’, with its insistent melody line, driving one-note bass pulse and playful exhortations to engage in a love match: “Tell me are you ready to do rendez-vous?”

At the album’s end and at the outer limits of its sound world, meanwhile, is ‘Brise la Glace’, a 19-minute medley of song fragments, vocal extemporisation  and music concrète-style collage that leaves us, and ‘361’, drifting into the void. There is to be no answer to Marie’s question “Ou suis je?”; outer space or inner space, either way it’s destination unknown.

David McKenna