Prior to the release of last year’s comeback album ‘Many Colours’, it had been a while since we last heard from French electronic producer Marc Nguyen Tan, aka Colder. During the early nineties, Tan’s two albums as Colder on Trevor Jackson’s Output label, 2003’s ‘Again’ and its lusher follow-up, 2005’s ‘Heat’ saw him associated peripherally with both the then-current electroclash and punk-funk scenes, though in truth his stripped down angular arrangements owed far more to a downbeat take on post-punk, with traces of Gang Of Four and Joy Division’s propulsive basslines seeping through.
Arriving simultaneously alongside its partner collection ‘Goodbye’, this latest album ‘The Rain’ was apparently recorded back in 2009 and intended to be released as Colder’s third album, before Jackson made the decision to close down the Output label, leaving the nine tracks collected here unreleased until now. While longtime Colder listeners are unlikely to be surprised by the distinctly nocturnal soundscapes Tan crafts here using bass, guitar, drums and subtle electronics, on the whole ‘The Rain’ feels more stripped-down and meandering than his previous work, something magnified further by the fact that the majority of the tracks are instrumentals.
As with his preceding albums, there’s a distinctly norish atmosphere to Tan’s aesthetic, with the subtle deployment of background touches such as field recorded traffic adding to the gloomily cinematic feel. Title track ‘The Rain’ opens proceedings tentatively as chiming guitar chords slowly gather up into a web of melodic textures and distantly cawing crows ascend in a passing flock against glittering synth tones, before ‘Mango Coconut’ sees a tribal Krautrock drum groove powering away beneath bluesy guitar interplay and atonal phased noises, the blend of tight fluid grooves and ragged edges calling to mind one of La Dusseldorf’s loose yet streamlined jam sessions.
‘Maracas’ meanwhile sees a taut drum machine rhythm clicking away against rippling delayed-out synths and vaguely funky skeletal bass chords, before ‘All Along The Way’ sees Tan’s vocals making one of two appearances here, his curiously detached delivery adding a seductive edge to the shuffling snares, wandering basslines and twinkling electronics that dart above. Indeed, it manages to be so smooth and groovy that you’re left wondering why there aren’t more luminescent and pop-kissed moments like it on ‘The Rain’, which often feels more composed of experiments and felt-out sketches than the long awaited follow-up to Colder’s impressive ‘Heat’ album proper.