Ever-prolific French electronic producer and multi-instrumentalist Franck Vigroux only just graced us with his ‘Desastre’ EP a few months ago, and now this latest album ‘Totem’ offers up the first release from new Berlin label Aesthetical. Those already familiar with Vigroux’s previous work will have a good idea of what to expect here, but in this case the ten tracks collected here see him taking his dark atmospheric fusion of industrial noise, harsh IDM rhythms and cinematic ambience to new levels of potency.
Opening track ‘Tropiques’ throws the listener straight in head first, as vast walls of buzzing distorted synths surge against whirring ambient electronics, the violent cluster chords pitchshifting all over the place like a seriously disturbed cousin of Tangerine Dream before a sudden signal cut brings everything to a halt.
‘Capaupire’ meanwhile gets more sheeny and subliminal as dark sub-bass swells curve against minimalist hiphop rhythms and vaporous background ambience, though the fiery distorted synths are never too far from the surface, raging back into the foreground before dying away, only to be replaced by what sound like treated horn samples.
Elsewhere, ‘Baron’ ventures out into gleaming industrial hiphop as steel-edged kicks prowl against moody bass tones, before dark majestic synth orchestration begins to unfurl, the beats shifting into stuttering bursts of static as the ominous cinematic atmosphere continues to build.
It’s epic closing track ‘Diaphane’ though that easily represents this album’s most ambitious moment, spending ten minutes shifting from coldly delicate trails of synthetic orchestration, into more ragged post-rock territory as shearing overdriven synth chords gradually rise into focus, powering things off towards the horizon alongside a warm bleed of background ambience. All up, ‘Totem’ is easily one of the strongest dark electronic / industrial albums I’ve heard so far this year.