There aren’t many shades of grey when it comes to post-rock – it tends to be either fascinating, intricate and transcendental, or indulgent, pretentious and boring. Sure, the line between the two sometimes blurs, but you normally know within two or three tracks whether the record you’re listening to is going to move you or make you cringe. This debut from Mme. Chandelier – the alter-ego of Anthony Sahyoun, guitar player with the Lebanese post-rock quarter Kinematic – falls into the former category, and also pushes the envelope of the sub-genre, taking a deconstructionist approach to the layered repetition and almost mathematical structures that are post-rock’s hallmarks.
Working with a limited pallet – guitars, pedals, 3 analog synthesizers and an analog drum-machine – Mme. Chandelier has crafted a cohesive long-player that explores textures, loops and soundscapes in a seemingly organic way. The tracks bleed into each other, influence each other, acting as part of a whole rather than parts unto themselves, acting more like movements of an extended suite rather than individual songs. Unless paying extremely close attention, it’s difficult to distinguish the point where one track ends and the next begins, a factor that makes Post-Coital Tristesse so much more than just another navel-gazing exploration of time and space.
‘B’ is almost an introduction to the album, rather than a song proper – a single shimmering guitar line slowly builds into layers of looped lines as synthesisers gently pulse in the background, as if heralding the rise of a crystalline sun. Without so much as a moment of silence, a lone note sustained beyond nature’s capabilities and a start-stop electronic beat connect the track to ‘Minimal Potato,’ which soon resolves into an exemplary piece of math-rock, layers of guitars repeating short blocky phrases again and again before giving way to jerky drums and a pulsing synthesizer, which undergo more and more treatment until they mix and become an artificial wail with a vague bass-and-snare beat somewhere underneath it. A sudden stop and ‘Triangle’ begins, a wobbly melody line warbling away over a stuttering beat and chunky guitar chords ringing out like they’ve been played on an autoharp, every instrument becoming wobblier and more out of phase the longer they go on, the sound quality degrading until the song resembles a murkier version of grime.
And on it goes, with Mme. Chandelier leading us on a beautiful and surprising journey that feeds our brains with nourishment and feeds our ears with candy. To say any more would spoil the frequent and wonderful surprises in store.