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Cinema Strange CDCinema Strange
Quatorze Exemples Authentiques
Du Triomphe De La Musique Décorative (Trisol)

 

Cinema Strange's journey from deathrock scene darlings - a kind of stand-in for the Sex Gang Children, a Virgin Prunes de nos jours - to their present status as surreal art-rock troubadours of the new century is a fascinating progression, especially as I have no idea how much of this stylistic shift was deliberately engineered, and how much of it just...happened. But this album demonstrates very effectively how the band have arrived at a place all of their own, triangulated somewhere between the orchestra pit at a vaudeville theatre, Frank Zappa, and the hatstand. The music on Quatorze Exemples is not necessarily easy to assimilate. Certainly, if you're looking for the alternosounds of 1982 faithfully recreated for retrogoths, all Batcave beats and mohawk madness, you might want to look elsewhere. Cinema Strange aren't in that area now. But while she may not be wearing ripped fishnet these days, Cinema Strange's unique muse will still inveigle herself into your head if you give her half a chance.

Much of the music here isn't exactly new. Songs like 'Unlovely Baby' and 'I Remember Tendon Water' are familiar from the band's live sets. In fact, the small print tells me the recordings took place in bits and pieces between 2003 and 2006, so this is more a diary of Cinema Strange's adventures over the last three years than a sudden gusher of brand new creativity. But the album nevertheless hangs together admirably as a collection of slightly unsettling Hilaire Belloc-style cautionary tales and musical eccentricity, all set to that high wire jam and jabber. The Cinema Strange sound is taut, tightly wound, the sonic equivalent of crossing the Niagra Falls on a tightrope. It's all jangling nerves and wide eyes: the bass pings like sonar, the guitar chimes like the nervous laugh of a dowager at a cocktail party, the drums rattle up a nervy sussuration. Over all this, vocalist Lucas Lanthier declaims his circumlocutory stories in an epicene wail. Sometimes, as on 'Needlefeet', the band pitches headlong into a pell-mell tumble, as the guitar, bass and drums fall over each other in a rush - the sonic equivalent of going over the Niagra Falls in a barrel. Other times, as on 'Squashed Blossoms', they take the music for a kick-about like the Mothers Of Invention let loose in the local park. 'Intermezzo: Bright Violet Euphoria' is a ballet in flickering 1920s monochrome, 'The Toad Curse And How It Perished In Flames' is a lovelorn ballad from the murkier realms of Tolkein. If all this sounds as if any connection between Cinema Strange's music and the world of conventional rock 'n' roll is glancing, tangental - well, that wouldn't be an erroneous conclusion. But if this is musique décorative, I like their style.


 

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