Psych-pop mazes, cinematic atmospheres, pastoral ballads, electronic ghosts : monumental.
Released in 2013 on the now defunct and regretted Clapping Music, Axel Monneau’s previous and critically acclaimed album, Super Forma, was a monumental pop masterpiece –trust us, we carefully weighed the word. Film projectionist in another life, the Parisian set the scenery of a grandiose science-fiction flick, built a shiny and colorful rocket for a mutant and chaotic trip, navigating from a galaxy to another, somewhere between Georges Méliès and Syd Barrett, Ennio Morricone and The Who, Lewis Carroll and King Crimson, The Beach Boys and British folk, The Left Banke and medieval folk he already explored with his former band Centenaire.
We’re not quite sure what genre of movies Orval Carlos Sibelius watched since Super Forma was released. We know he got up close and personal with volcanos and plunged into their deadly magma when he wrote his instrumental piece, Ascension, for late Haroun Tazieff’s documentary Les Rendez-vous du diable (“The Devil’s Meetings”). We can guess that he also recently got intimate with another kind of underground tumult: the Western world’s widespread despair and depression, the troubled existentialism of a bleak era.
Released by one of the most exciting present French label, Born Bad Records, sung in French for the first time, his new album Ordre et progrès is on a lyrical level an impressive, moving, shattering-yet-hilarious Houellebecquian exploration of the modern frustrations, small daily humiliations, constant self-deprecation, disappearance wishes and chemically induced seconds of happiness of any middle-aged disappointed and miserable whatsisname.
Sounds sordid, doesn’t it? Wrong. Totally wrong. It sounds incredibly bright, it’s a dazzling blast of light –that’s the brilliant paradox and contrast of this astonishing collection of unforgettable tunes. Keep in mind the record’s name. Ordre et progrès, “order and progress”, “Ordem e progresso”: Brasil’s national motto, and French philosopher Auguste Comte’s definition of positivism.
But Ordre et progrès is more than positive: it is blissfully excessive. It’s a psychedelic pop peplum, a giant Lego construction with, sometimes, as many as 140 tracks, a millefeuille packed with perfectly crafted melodies, electric explosions, unexpected strings and brass arrangements exploding like supernovae in the dark, wonderful cellos quietly caressing the chaos.
Pop mazes, cinematic atmospheres, pastoral ballads, progressive post-pop, electronic ghosts, sadness and light: whole universes collide in Orval Carlos Sibelius’ brilliant mind and the Frenchman proves with this fifth album that he’s one of the finest songwriters of the time.