Wow, it’s amazing how hard it is for electronica musicians these days to actually sound ORIGINAL. That, but it’s also just, that this is the case. It makes sense that this genre would have generally, by and large, run its course, all the Flying Lotus albums sounding roughly the same (I personally cling to Cosmogramma, and claim thereby to have heard them all), a select few of a handful, or a half a dozen, who still seem to forward the genre stylistically (Grimes doing so more culturally and melodically).
And damned if Larmheim seems ready or willing to miss a single one on Cent Soleils, which in French means “Hundred Suns,” and is that three different languages I count, none of which is French, amongst the titles (one of which is English, the other two German, and Italian?) Trust me, it gets even trickier than this.
One of my least favorite Black Milk lines is “And the moral of the story is death.” And it’s not that I don’t agree with him, it’s that I just think the line is tacky and truncated — he could have been more decorative, descriptive, elaborate or just plain creative.
But my point is, sorry to give it away, but the moral of the story on Cent Soleils is definitely death — from the rampant, copious use of helicopter/gunshot sounds, especially within side A, to track two’s title of “Deadeye.” Larmheim is clearly a musical artist who’s imbibed a heavy dose of carnage and destruction, his album having even come out before the Paris attacks (by about a month).
Yet, I don’t get the sense that death, to him, is TRUTH — that is, he doesn’t buddy up to the destruction and warfare motif to a tacky extent. In fact, hell, I don’t know WHAT to think of Larmheim, other than that finally someone made an atonal rock album that doesn’t COMPLETELY rip off Wolf Eyes, but rather only partly rips off Wolf Eyes (give him credit for mainly just doing so with the visceral thumps, and not so much the static and the structural thing).
But the fart-sounding bass in “Video Game Soundtrack” is a problem. In fact, I’m generally not a big fan of fart noises. I hate when the sour cream bottles at work do that.
So bravo, Larmheim, you have crafted a mood, here, which I didn’t want to LEAVE, though was forced out of by this weirdness. And you have done so with… bloody death on the walls! Destruction!
It took me a while to write this review, but Cent Soleils itself was no doubt a labor of love. Larmheim is colossally talented in all facets of electronica, which in my opinion you almost need to be these days in order to get on the map — and he could have just made a drone album, I mean he’s good enough at just drone to VIE for credibility, certainly, next to your Yellow Swans and your Oneohtrix Point Nevers, but like I said he is clearly a fan of Detroit’s Wolf Eyes, and so cacophony dominates side A, whereas emergent melodic Fu** Buttons-like rapture takes the baton for side B.
And I really have no opinion of this hemispheric dichotomy one way or the other; suffice it to say that Cent Soleils’ heterogeneousness is what makes it an enjoyable listen, an album I see myself going back to and back to over the next few months, just to marvel at how one human being could absorb all these different techniques. Album cohesiveness be damned — it’s an achievement simply of the cerebral, at the most basic level. And deliberately, I am depicting Larmheim as pastiche-adhering here, but penultimate track “Werkstatt Fulx” does usher in a documentable “trademark” of his, how what by this time has taken the shape of a “tone poem” sees the individual tones orphaned, split and marbleized, though sporadically and left unique, not uniformly or all at once. The closest artistic reference here is probably drone kings Yellow Swans, and I think were they to behold Cent Soleils they’d marvel before the album’s dynamic qualities, its general evasion of priorly formed habits, and its ability to instill in each song a tension and conversation for it to call its own, like the climbing, insatiable melody which closes out “Video Game Soundtrack.”
“Video Game Soundtrack” is an ironic track, because at least to me, it plays as the one installment on the album perhaps UNFIT for simply echoing the backdrop of fictional killing. Or maybe it’s just that it stands out from the rest of the album so distinctly, for its indiscreet embrace of melody with the stringed instrument (it sounds like a fu**ed up harpsichord, over that farting bass), that the title seems like Larmheim doing himself a disservice, or just putting one over on us, saying yeah, my definitive statement here it’s still just for make-believe guys killing each other on a screen. Nice try, Larmheim. They ain’t stealin’ all my glory.