Société Étrange / Chance / Les Disques Bongo Joe – By Adam Turner

Words by the ever erudite Adam Turner.

French trio, Société Étrange, have released a second album, Chance, a full seven years after their debut – a long gap by anyone’s standards. The three piece spent the time writing, rewriting, and honing and the tracks live, before committing them to tape in July 2020. Hypnosis and repetition are at the core of Société Étrange’s world. Built around drums, bass and electronics and a lot of Roland Space Echo, the entirely instrumental album is a six-song ride across the margins. There’s plenty of early `80s punk funk grooves to be found here, the bass-lines of post-punk Manchester and Bristol revived in 21st century Lyon, along with the sonic aesthetics of King Tubby, plus more than a touch of post-rock groups, such as Tortoise. The sounds, and attitude, of people such as Adrian Sherwood and Jah Wobble also hover around. These are some big shoes to slip into, and try to emulate, but on the whole, they pull it off, creating a focused, cohesive six track bohemian soundtrack.

The drumming on opener, La Rue Principale Le Grandif, is looking over its shoulder at Jaki Liebezeit – Can-inspired syncopated rhythms at the centre of what they’re doing. Nute is an eight-minute space age exploration, the descending synth-line spiralling further and further downwards, as musical elements bounce back and forth across the mix. New New York is more space and echo, more music for dark corners, noodly and experimental. Sur La Piste De Dance picks up the industrial beat of early `80s Sheffield, and shakes it down – that Space Echo again used liberally, and although the sounds here are dark and murky, they’re never gloomy, there’s always a sense of light – the dust and smoke dancing in a beam of sunlight that breaks through a window in an unlit basement. A L’interieur Au Numero 97 is fragmented, weirded out exotica, the band playing in a club where the air is clouded with a thick, low lying fug. Album closer, Futur, seven minutes long, brings the triple influences of post-punk, krautrock and dub together, producing skittering, delay-laden percussive patterns. Tropical bird songs and dancing synth melodies pulsing into the distance.

Société Étrange`s Chance is out now, on Les Disques Bongo Joe.

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