Igorrr – Spirituality and Distortion


Artist

Album

Spirituality and Distortion

Label

Metal Blade Records

Year

2020

For Fans Of

Venetian Snares, Thy Catafalque, Diablo Swing Orchestra.

Summary

"So what music is this?" "Yes."

Rating

90 / 100

If I had to summarize what Igorrr sounds like to someone unfamiliar with this French madman and co.’s work in a single sentence off the top of my head, I honestly wouldn’t be able to do so without every metaphorical cog in my brain simultaneously locking up. Putting an accurate, succinct genre classification on the music of this truly bizarre artist, without just simply saying avant-garde-metal, breakcore, or techno-symphonic-polka-metal would be quite a feat. One could just say “avant-garde” but an album like ‘Spirituality and Distortion‘ is so much more than that, as the music effortlessly tiptoes an incredibly thin red line between undeniably dense and quite accessible and appreciative for what it is. It’s honestly an injustice to briefly describe what Igorrr is capable of just for the sake of being short and sweet. As this mind-bending group deserves a full-blown conspiracy theorist type rant, given their inane musical vision. Throw everything that you know and expect about modern electronic, experimental and extreme metal music out the damn window, as it is time for Igorrr to homogenize our feeble minds and spoon feed our liquid brain goop right back into our comatose bodies.

Because ‘Spirituality and Distortion‘ is your brain on drugs, or rather, your brain on Igorrr. This is how it feels to chew 5 Gum. If you were to put a bunch of random ingredients from your pantry that you knew wouldn’t go well together into some poor blender, trying to create the most putrid thing possible, that’s this record. And I confidently guarantee you that you’ve never heard anything quite like this of late unless you’ve already been cursed with knowledge and are already an Igorrr follower. Some could probably argue that their brand of experimental-electro-metal complexity is too much, that it’s more about the shock factor (and there’s perhaps even a little truth for that) and that it ruins the musical experience, but that’s clearly not the case for ‘Spirituality and Distortion.’

2017’s ‘Savage Sinusoid‘ was the first Igorrr record that I really appreciated, yet still providing to be an interesting listening challenge. Regarding this eclectic new record, the music is still extremely abstract but also smooth to digest; it is perfectly balanced. Imagine the chaos Dillinger Escape Plan had mixed with the big-swing band sound of Diablo Swing Orchestra and glitchy breakbeats in the vein of Venetian Snares. There’s so much going on here, it’ll make you swoon, go mad, or both; a unique record.

One of the interesting things about Igorrr is his musical virtuosity and ambitiousness. Throughout his discography, he’s been known to make instruments out of things that aren’t normally instruments, like your grandma’s cookie tin or Hoover vacuum cleaners for example. We’re talking about a band who recorded themselves banging on scaffolding floors for opener ‘Downgrade Desert‘ and even cutting apart and carving up a gas cylinder and making it into a make-shift xylophone for drummer Sylvain Bouvier to play at the start of ‘Himalaya Massive Ritual‘ before the stomping metal grooves and sitar’s come in. (Curious to see what I mean? Watch this.) It makes you consider the massive range of unique sounds you can achieve outside of just a  traditional band set-up and even normal instruments in general. I genuinely want to hear more of that from other metal artists, as that is some hugely untapped potential. Combine that creativity with this record’s crystal-clear production and it’s an incredible experience.

Given that the mastermind behind Igorrr, Gautier Serre, started off as an electronic musician primarily, you can tell that his attention to detail and aspiration for musical perfection rang true on this record with the embellishment of multiple genres and influences into one cohesive listen. I cannot applaud the glitchy, bit-crushed and cut-up production style of this record enough, as every instrument (makeshift, programmed, or real) sounds pristine and placed in perfect unison with the coordinated mayhem that unfolds in each track. Case in point: one can easily identify the difference between programmed and traditional bass, thanks to the impeccable mixing. I know there are many criticisms to artists using programmed instruments but despite using them, Igorrr blends them into the music so that they provide something unique rather than depend on other elements like too many other bands do, tearing the human aspect right out of the music. A lack of any human touch is certainly not applicable to ‘Spirituality and Distortion,’ quite the contrary, really: only a human could’ve thought of shit like this.

Like all weird jazz and progressive artists, the tracks on this record are cleverly titled towards the “aesthetic” of the music on any specific track. For instance, ‘Polyphonic Rust‘ is exactly that: a polyphonic, polyrhythmic orchestral prog-metal adventure. Starting back at the beginning, ‘Downgrade Desert‘ sets the stage with a vibe that makes you feel as if you’re trudging through a barren desert, searching for any promise of salvation. Then, shortly into the track, the full band comes in alongside Laure Le Prunenec’s operatic vocals, and puts a huge twist on this desert vibe; at that very moment, you come across the realization that you’ve stumbled into an endless desert, one that you won’t be finding your way out of. ‘Nervous Waltz‘ is basically that; a waltz that you feel nothing but anxiety and discomfort while dancing to it. The tempo and structure is that of a waltz but reimagined in such a way that it’s incredibly unsettling and mysterious. Via a combination of eerie piano, violin, and fingered acoustic guitar alongside the baroque vocals during the bridge, it never fails to send shivers down my spine. And the outro features a massive breakdown followed by a very glitchy, programmed slap bass solo that’s utterly killer. There’s just something about that digital bass tone that makes me smile every time I hear it throughout the record; it’s just so beefy and silly, but in the best of ways.

 

Third track and first single, ‘Very Noise‘ is aptly titled. An amusing, funky, and glitchy piece full of busy drumming, cheeky synths, palm-muted chugs, fun “hey” calls, Mudvayne-like bass slaps, and so much more. You need to experience that thing for yourself so I’ll move on before I spoil anything more. Likewise, instrumental track ‘Camel Dancefloor‘ is a real highlight of this record for me. Containing my favorite drum performance of the LP alongside a monstrous bass tone, super dreamy and electronic-tinged Arabian instrumental passages with an infectious rhythmic bounce like you’re riding an actual camel will keep your head-bobbing during this period of pandemic and self-quarantine.

While Igorrr’s last record featured Travis Ryan from Cattle Decapitation on ‘Cheval, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a death metal cameo shortage here. As George “Corspegrinder” Fisher from Cannibal Corpse guests on the track, ‘Parpaing.’ This is the heaviest track of the lot, which for the most part is your traditional death metal track but infused with 8-bit electronics that completely replaces and mimics the guitars on the latter half of the track while Fisher continues to work his magic. I remember the days when I couldn’t tolerate any form of death metal, even for a second, and its bands like Igorrr, that tastefully infuse death metal into the rest of the music, that made me start to appreciate it as a whole!

From the moment that the whimsical ‘Musette Maximum‘ starts, I cannot withhold the big-ass smile that nearly breaks into laughter once that French accordion comes in alongside the blast beats and Laurent Lunoir’s edited screams. This whole album is just so extravagant that it never fails to impress me and make me chuckle because of how goofy, interesting and refreshing it is. I never expected to hear an accordion-accompanied blast beat in 2020 again after their last records, but here we are and life is good.

Despite being very peculiar and ridiculously heavy at times, Igorrr’s latest never failed to put you in a good mood. There are little moments in each track that make my jaw drop in awe, from the schizophrenic, percussion-heavy Venetian Snares-like breakbeats in ‘Very Noise,’ to the glitchy electronics and overly dramatic violin parts in ‘Paranoid Bulldozer Italiano,’ (what a title) to the gloomy, entrancing ritualistic chanting heard during the blackened ‘Barocco Satani.’ There is no shortage of surprises, that’s for sure! That being said, there are a couple of moments throughout the record that feels a little stretched out, as some instrumental passages tend to repeat themselves too much, causing things to feel just a tad longer than what they should be. However, the colossal, free-thinking variety helps to keep a fresh, unique sound that doesn’t ever grow dull as you ride across this gargantuan record.

Conclusion

On ‘Spirituality and Distortion,’ musical themes and motifs that most very familiar with, such as a waltz or techno or death metal, are reinterpreted in such a way to make it sound unlike anything else you’ve maybe heard. The ridiculous blend of baroque, Eastern tones, funk, electronica, and breakbeats with the tasteful infusion of black and death metal flows smoothly together, surprisingly never once feeling forced or out of place. The production is absolutely stellar, and every single element is balanced perfectly among the rest of the ensuing chaos; everything gets it’s time in the spotlight, with these 14 compositions being so fleshed out. Music as varied, as schizophrenic as this demands pristine production, after all.

Compared to their previous records, which are even more dense and eclectic although shorter overall, ‘Spirituality and Distortion’ proves to be more accessible whilst still maintaining Igorrr’s trademark brand of insanity and quirkiness. This weird amalgamation of metal and non-heavy styles is destined to grow on you thick and hard as it once did me. Igorrr is an acquired taste, but once you acquire it, once you see through to the other side, there’s no going back. Igorrr, and his collective of talented musicians, are all artists who go the extra mile to make weird, creative, and boundless music that doesn’t fit into a box. It’s albums like this that make me love music. What an accomplishment!

Tracklisting

Downgrade Desert
Nervous Waltz
Very Noise
Hollow Tree
Camel Dancefloor
Parpaing
Musette Maximum
Himalaya Massive Ritual
Lost in Introspection
Overweight Posey
Paranoid Bulldozer Italiano
Barocco Satani
Polyphonic Rust
Kung-Fu Chèvre

‘Spirituality and Distortion’ is out Friday, March 27th: 

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