The Other Colours: Up Up Up
The new record from the duo of producer Laurent Chambert and singer Marie Möör begins on a surprising note, kicking in instantly with spritely 90s trance synth stabs. It’s a bit of shock, not at all a sound I expected to be listening to in 2012. It’s the title track and possibly the least satisfying thing on the album but it does set a tone, and also sets up Möör’s lyrical modus operandi for the album – ‘up, up, up’ is delivered an exhortation in its own right but also as a stuttered fragment of the world ‘volupté’.
Throughout the album Möör circles certain words and themes obsessively, chopping and changing, shuffling syllables in a seeming bid to unlock their latent energy – so we go from a song called ‘Volutes’ (wisps or curls) to a later one called ‘Vos Luttes’ (‘your conflicts’). The word ‘cage’ also comes up a lot - on ‘Medusa’ Möör sounds like a sorting machine, running through different associations and permutations of the word, from a cage for guinea pigs to “Nicolas Cage, whose real name is Nicolas Kim Coppola.” So there’s a push and pull throughout between psychic imprisonment, a sense of being trapped by the self and the world, and freedom, clarity, breathing space (it reminds me of the Blue Orchids’ Dumb Magician: “the only way out is up”).
Chambert is an expert, sometimes clinical, soundscaper, heavily informed by industrial and electro pop but also whole swathes of dance and electronic music history. On previous album 361, the ultra-poppy ‘Rendez-Vous’ was a standout but here the perkiest songs (the aforementioned title track, ‘In The Cage’) are the least satisfying. Up, Up, Up is at its best when Möör gets to sigh and implore over more free-floating mood pieces. ‘L’appel’ is particularly impressive, with its kettle drum rolls, cymbal splashes and startling jump cuts, while ‘Volutes’ opens with just Möör’s intoning ‘volupté’ (again) set to the sound of buzzing bees, to disconcerting effect. Best of all is when, as on 'Je Veux', Möör’s already fragmentary vocal parts are further processed, sliced to ribbons, pitched up or down, looped around themselves, linguistic expression revealed as a hall of mirrors. Often it’s as though Möör is trying to use language against itself, to shatter it.