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Album Review: Boucle Infinie - '直線移動'

8 December 2017 | 3:51 am | Alex Sievers

Rémi Gallego changes paradigms on new EP.

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Some of you may know French musician Rémi Gallego for his proggy-electronica-metal instrumental band, The Algorithm, AKA the best video game music around that's yet to feature in an actual video game. However, in a recent move that's situated far away from the multi-layered, bi-genre sonic assault of The AlgorithmGallego has pushed-off a far less aggressive-sounding project with his new EP, '直線移動'; a deep exploration into the sonic realm of both cinematic post-rock and 80's synthwave.

Composing, producing, tracking, mixing and mastering under the new Boucle Infinie moniker - which in English means "infinite loop" - we see Gallego combine post-rock and synthwave into an expansive yet cohesive whole. He expertly slams melodic tremolo guitars, airy atmospherics, sense of scale, emotive melodies and lengthy compositions of post-rock with the hi-fi bass lines, warm analogue synths, ambient pads, John Carpenter-esque synth stabs, drum machine beats, ominous electronic wobbles, digital effects, and bright 80's guitar riffs of the latter retro-loving format. The result is Boucle Infinie's debut EP being made up of five mesmerising widescreen soundscapes; a wonderful crossover of two styles near-perfectly suited to have been meshed together. All with some IDM and trip-hop elements thrown in for good measure!

So, basically, just think of the retro synthwave approach of Timecop1983 or The Midnight (minus those gnarly saxophone solos) teaming up with the simplistic but layered and effective songwriting of Collapse Under The Empire and the dreamy lo-fi ambient sounds of Tycho.

It's all an incredibly potent mixture and it creates an exceptional new outlet and dynamic for Gallego as an artist as well. Because I think what makes post-rock and synthwave work so goddamn well as separate musical styles - more so than their affecting melodies, deep emotional value and densely layered textures - is that they can really tell you a story; whether it be small and microcosmic or large and sprawling. Both genres can truly transport you into a different environment or even into a different era and time period. Whether that's a nostalgic trip back in time to cultures and places now gone or a futuristic journey to some far off, science-fiction dystopia is the prerogative of the creator. As such, with this release's combination of the pair, you get something truly special. And I feel that Gallego was just the right guy to do it justice, for he seemingly knows what makes both genres work so well, thus nailing this sonic marriage.

[caption id="attachment_1100156" align="alignnone" width="760"]PC: Vollvincent. Gallego. PC: Vollvincent.[/caption]

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'直線移動' (Chinese for "Zhíxiàn yídòng" or "Move straight" in English) is a glorious release altogether. It's almost like the soundtrack to a fictional film about a grand, wondrous yet perhaps sinister future society that may or may not come to ever exist.

Of course, over the past few decades, countless media forms alike - from movies to games, to T.V. comics, books and music - have been infatuated with fictional future settings that are all about capturing our wandering eyes, intrigued hearts and most vivid imaginations. Take the often cold yet neon-noir L.A. shown off in the original Blade Runner, the alien-yet-often-familiar places seen in the Star Wars universe, the dizzying heights and far-off depths of the Helghast industrial ghetto's in the woefully average PS4 exclusive Killzone: Shadows Fall, or the machine-like cleanliness seen in the future colonies and skylines of the Halo series or in Deux ExHuman Evolution. (Yes yes, we all know that that last games 2016 sequel, Mankind Divided, is the far superior title - I was just making a point that all these fictional places are well-constructed universes with their own deep lore). And this half-hour long EP nails that fictitious yet larger-than-life setting and vibe so effortlessly across its five songs.

The opening title track is a great introduction to the EP as it superbly summarizes the two styles blending together; what with its creepy synthwave beginnings, its reverberant post-rock mid-section, and it's finale that overlaps the two sounds. The moody 80's pop track of 'Inside' - the one and only piece here with vocals, courtesy of synthwave artist Phillipe Charny - ends up sounding like a B-side to Ulver's 'The Assassination Of Julius Ceaser', but I'm definitely complaining! It's like an apocalyptic throwback to the likes of Tears For Fears, just with punchier bass riffs, more present guitar work and some added layers to cap it all of. It's a fuckin' great tune... even if it does end with a goddamn fade-out.

The late-night-drive tone of the first half of 'System', what with its guitar-piano call-and-response melodies and groovy lo-fi trip-hop drums, morphs from a dry and minimal foundation into this mammoth, atmospheric-filled post-rock piece; all held together with interweaving synth (and a few guitar) melodies in an exceptional manner. In fact, this third track really shows off Gallego's knack for composing and how he can execute a calmer, more restrained song than what The Algorithm is so often known for. Elsewhere, 'Meanings' is the most subtle and elegant track of the whole lot, having a looped beat play out under some quiet synth pads with piano licks and electronic-vocal breath samples fluttering in out of the sonic space to great effect. Plus, the incredibly "post-rock" guitar melody that comes in towards the end sounds legitimately like a riff taken straight from Collapse Under The Empire's magnum opus, 'Shoulders & Giants'. And if it actually is a sample or a reference of sorts, then I really do appreciate that little easter egg. (I also got a nice little kick out of how when you line up the EP's second, third and fourth songs, it spells out "Inside System Meanings". Kinda like Gallego is hinting at the inner-workings or the "infinite loops", if you will, that hold together the world and story that his music has created here).

'', or "Yǔ" in Chinese which is English for 'rain', captures just that: cascading and mood-setting rainfall crashing down on a sci-fi city filled with secrets, poverty, riches, life, death and everything else in between. All of which is so beautifully created by driving percussion, staccato acoustic guitar chords at one point, some bright piano riffs throughout (courtesy of Judith Hoorens from the truly awesome We Stood Like Kings), punchy bass synths you'd expect from a NewRetroWave artist, rising angelic pads towards the end and omnipresent lead melodies that creep in and out of the mix early on. Not only that, but the track's mammoth nine-minute-plus length allows Gallego to shift from inviting, quieter moments to big and surging movements, right up until the song's beautiful, dense and earth-shattering climax hits. '' really is "the" moment of this whole EP, for what began in such a grandiose way on the eponymous first track now concludes much the same way in a fitting finale to bring on home the closing credits of Boucle Infinie's epic score.

And my god, Adrien Bousson's truly fitting and enchanting artwork of this EP's front cover is to just die for!

In all sincerity, the one and only "Oui" man has outdone himself with his best work yet. Boucle Infinie's debut is an amazing and dare I say it, an innovative release as well. Rémi Gallego has created an expansive, cinematic and paradigm-changing release with his experimental '直線移動' EP. It's a release that not only mergers many different musical styles such as post-rock, synthwave, IDM, ambient and trip-hop but also many varying emotions and moods as well; all gelling together in what is a stellar and grandiose release overall. '直線移動' is the kind of record that you're meant to sit down and pick-apart thoroughly; one you're meant to listen to it again and again as you absorb each and every second of it into very fibres of your being.

1. 直線移動

2. Inside (ft. Philippe Charny)

3. System

4. Meanings

5. 雨

'直線移動' is out now, please do stream this magnificent work below: