Des Deux L'une Est L'autre

Written by: AP on 16/09/2009 13:19:53

It seems that by some unanimous, secret vote this scribe has been selected as the purveyor of all things experimental; the albums which overwhelm and confuse most people; where the concept of music becomes blurred and bands push the boundaries of music in the traditional sense. One of these albums is "Des Deux L'une Est L'autre" by Hypno5e - a non-linear ambient spectacle which leaves the listener scratching his head at how seamlessly the band journeys through the visible spectrum of stylistic influences and beyond.

One band that immediately comes to mind when thinking comparisons, is Opeth, but to call this mere progressive metal would be a gross underestimation. While it is true that the lingering clean sections in the two-part opener, "Maintained Relevance of Destruction", bear remarkable similarities to those found in the Swedes' material, especially in the vocal department, the sound of Hypno5e is of a far more eclectic nature. Sludge, death metal, electronica and dark ambiance meet under the umbrella of progressive rock to envelope the listener in an oppressive, obscure soundscape that juxtaposes the beautiful with the grotesque in a seldom-heard-before way. The result is a haunting, entrancing atmosphere that is as soothing as it is discomforting, speckled with spoken word and soundbytes from movies (and elsewhere?) in both English and French, which enhance the eeriness of the experience and, in songs like "Scarlet Fever" and "Tutuguri", contribute a frightful flow to the madness.

So from that preamble, not to mention the album's title (which translates roughly to "of the two, one is the other") it should be obvious that this is no ordinary piece of music. Quite the contrary, it is absolutely insane, and as such it is both surprising and rewarding to notice how masterfully the band is able to remain within acceptable confines so that in chaos there is control and coordination, even when gut-wrenching screams take over and the rhythms become syncopated. Much of this owes to the brilliant use of quiet/loud dynamics and, as mentioned, the ghastly speech in the background, with which the band gives birth to a sinuous atmosphere drawing between poetry and violence, between despair and madness, and leads us deep into the frontier of music.

The production on the album is outstanding, too, with much emphasis on the bass section so that when the more crunching moments step in, your understanding of the word 'heavy' may need to be re-evaluated. The composition of the album is such that picking out individual songs to listen to on their own will not reveal the full extent of the experience. While there are some gems hidden in there, there are also songs which consist purely of electronic samples and ominous ambient noise - most notably in the final three songs. In fact my only criticism is that these three songs could have better served interspersed between the heavier tracks, as intros, outros and interludes rather than a finale (which is a little anti-climatic, if also fascinatingly disquieting).

So to conclude this challenging review, let's just outline what this album is and what it isn't. There isn't a shred of doubt that it isn't for everyone; that some of you will not embrace the contrast between entropy and ambiance and will dismiss this as too psychotic a record to keep you intrigued. What it is, is the perfect soundtrack to a disturbing Japanese underground horror film (in fact, Dir En Grey's track "Obscure" and its music video comes to mind more than once during this album), a surreal and hypnotic venture through a dark and unforgiving landscape. "Des Deux L'une Est L'autre" is an album not meant to please, but to frighten.


Download: Maintained Relevance of Destruction (I & II), The Hole, Scarlet Fever, Tutuguri

For the fans of: Dir En Grey, Isis, The Ocean, Opeth

Listen: Myspace

Release date 13.01.2007


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