Alexis Degrenier – La mort aura tes yeux

3 out of 5

Label: Murailles Music

Produced by: Alexis Degrenier

The line between experimental music and experimental sounds that can act as music is an intriguing one. I’m rather sensitive to it, I suppose; I appreciate “art for art’s sake”s existence, but I also get a bit fussy about the fact that it’s packaged and sold like I should be listening to it. Experiencing it, yes, and I suppose there’s something to be said for how I just used the term art – meaning I should be looking at these as art pieces, perhaps, but that’s where my brain gets confuzzled: CDs, vinyl, digital: I’m supposed to play this stuff and bob my head and get immersed or whatever, right? And shouldn’t I want to play it more than once?

So experimental sounds that play at musicality don’t often rank high on my lists, especially when I struggle with the “point” of it.

Alexis Degrenier’s La mort aura tes yeux – translated as ‘Death will have your eyes,’ so, like, ninety million thumbs up for the album title alone – really tests my experimental line sensitivity across its six tracks, as the artist floats in and out of structure, intra-song, for almost every song. It’s frustrating in that regard, as Degrenier’s smash-up of various percussive devices (e.g. bumblebee box controlled by coarse drums rubbed stones…? as per translated bandcamp) makes for some sounds I adore – a Pierre Bastien mechano on opener Fatiguer; a Radian-esque electro hum across the B-side – as this is applied in an intense and textured format for, at least, the first half of any given track. But we – Alexis – tends to lose the thread past these halfway marks, and it’s not so much that things devolve into noise, rather that they just… don’t go anywhere. I stop hearing the point. If it’s an exploration of these various percussive approaches, it’s already been effected (and much more effectively…) in the openings. And perhaps to suggest I’m not just stuck on a need for rhythm, there are some drone tracks that are shorter than the others, and that I think absolutely land, immersing you in sound. But these, oddly, aren’t allowed to go on long enough to be the main draw.

Perhaps from a topdown view, this makes the most sense: concluding track Terminer seems to bring it all home, combining various clatters and mechano and drone elements into one cohesive, stunning ender. Though that also goes back to questioning how one is supposed to “experience” this: are the separate bits and pieces the art, and the last track is the music? Was this purposeful or accidental, and does that change anything? Does it matter, ultimately, as long as you enjoy it?

Well, look, it’s my review, and the bottom line is that I wandered in and out of being intrigued and bored at various points in Degrenier’s performance. But the various sounds never stopped being interesting, even from a strictly experimental yadda yadda point of view, and when things aligned to make what I’d consider music, it’s incredibly driving and grabbing stuff.