Rapport sur le Désordre
, October 4th, 2016 19:04
Franck Vigroux the artist is hard to nail down. Looking over a potted history of his work the thing that sticks out, in fact, is how much he embodies the holistic idea of the consummate modern artist. There is the plurality of his interests; he is at once a musician, artist, producer, turntablist, and film director — an omnivorous amalgamation meaning that he can shapeshift across numerous themes and mediums at once. Then there is also a ceaseless energy, a methodology and approach of being open across all cultural channels and mediation that ensures numerous collaborations across various mediums, as well as performing in a variety of spaces from mediated contemporary art spaces, to reclaimed ruins and spaces that formerly hosted the remnants of past industries.
One theme that has preoccupied Vigroux over the course of several years has been that of dystopia and ruination: across a series of works in various media, Vigroux has pored over the nature of how society is controlled through science, social engineering and informational flows. There are his albums, Camera Police (2010) and We (2012), which ally bruising electronics and noise-flecked soundscapes with black and white album imagery of state power and apocalyptic post-industrial wastelands. There has been the French radio piece D503, inspired by Eugène Zamiatine’s sci-fi novel We, and the 2013 multi-disciplinary dance installation Acun Lieu. Then there is his film work such as Dust (2007), the Gregory Robin directed Entrailles (2012) and Transistor (2014), where Vigroux performs his work in the blasted out remnants and shells of past industries - abandoned mineshafts, crumbling warehouses and factories – where the ruin porn aesthetic of industry’s signifiers and totems is smashed with Vigroux’s own concrete abstractions of sound.
With this in mind, you can sense a definite thematic pattern arising that feeds into Vigroux’s latest album, Rapport sur le Désordre — that of unease, paranoia, and restless building of tensions in the air between violent maximalism and intense introspection. All is pretty much encapsulated in the album's opening track ‘Sun’, which begins like a subterranean sunrise of doom, unfurling with hi-definition metallic howls and ominous drones that are accompanied with an overloading digitised organ. This noise then abruptly stops, leaving a brooding pulse hanging in an empty abyss of stereophonic space. Pin drops of static noise and a plaintive vocoder vocal sit abandoned and alone in the darkness.
From hereon Vigroux uses the limits and material pointers defined in ‘Sun’ and builds within them, creating area where industrialised sounds of state violence, mechanised labour, virulent cybernetics and hyper-intensive information flows. ‘Simularés’ is wall-to-wall digital riot, full of crunching beats, revving vehicular distortion samples that whoosh from ear to ear, classic turntablist sampling of nondescript media talking heads, and squealing noises designed to induce migraines. Tracks such as ‘Flesh’, ‘Stadium’, and ‘Icône’ meanwhile take on the cyberpunk aesthetics to a further level – metallic rhythms and liquid chrome soundscapes collide with mechanised, inhuman tics, crackles and utterances. Digitised warfare and trans-global brutality in effect, where even the ambient washes that occur have a deliberate build up in noise and power that eventually tears itself, and your eardrums, apart.
But outside of this barrage of harshness, there are moments of, admittedly intense, contemplation: ‘Elastique’ is pretty much a standout track of the entire album – a narcotic, yet acrid air of hazy electronic mist is punctuated by eroded yet still resonant drones that any fan of Leyland James Kirby’s project as The Stranger or Justin K Broadrick’s Council State Electronics alias will immediately become accustomed to. The albums closer, ‘Acun Lieu’, meanwhile is sci-fi dystopia as a hollowed out shell, the low-end rumbles burning up the last of its energy, leaving only the crackling of the remains.
Vigroux’s music on Rapport sur le Désordre, along with its accompanying digital audiovisual performances, are part of a line of contemporary artists running through Ben Frost to The Haxan Cloak and the works of Mika Vainio (who Vigroux collaborated on last year’s album, Peau Froide, Léger Soleil) and Pan Sonic; artists who use the grain and abstract heft to articulate the power of sentient machinery and cosmic expanse with speaker-blowing dynamics and an obsessive eye for detail. Such sounds have now become a staple in contemporary art culture where the drive to immerse and barrage the senses, something that would have been done in the past in a club, has long been normalised and shackled in sterile art spaces; objects of rarefied cultural commodification.
And in that sense Rapport sur le Désordre would be no different. To break that sense of institutionalisation, this album needs to be heard in places outside the art space or even the home; let it loose in your ears around your local building site or standing at a busy road junction. Have it on your phone while walking home at night from the club, or on the way to work if you must. It's oppositional music that can be layered over the warfare of your everyday existence. Play this one loud.