Bisbâyé- Le Sens De La Fin / The Sense of an Ending

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Artist: Bisbâyé

Album: Le Sens De La Fin / The Sense of an Ending

Label: Cuneiform Records

Release Date: 29 January, 2021

Country: Quebec

Digital Price: $10

Length: 42min 15s

Genre: Progressive metal / experimental / math rock

Cuneiform Records always seems to bring top tier progressive and experimental artistry to the table, and with Bisbâyé they have done so yet again. Bisbâyé is a band from Quebec whose name, we are told, is pronounced something like ‘bees-bow-yay’. Bisbâyé translates as ‘what happens when there is nothing else one can do, when uncertainty and obstacles require excelling oneself’. That is truly an appropriate name given the content and themes of their latest release Le Sens De La Fin, an album about the hopelessness and impending sense of doom in a world of increasing social isolation and divisiveness. As one might expect from a Quebecois band each title, including that of the album itself, is provided in both English and French. For the purposes of this review the French titles will be used.

Bisbâyé is a band with an interesting lineup – this is an entirely instrumental band without any vocals, and there are two guitarists, a bassist, and two drummers. Yes, two drummers – the sort of band composition that instantly brings my mind to Melvins, another band known for its unusual and experimental music, often having either two drummers or two bassists. Although I would certainly not draw any comparison between Bisbâyé and Melvins musically, Bisbâyé makes the most of their lineup, more than proving the value of such an unusual band lineup in the way that Melvins also did. On guitars we have Jean-pierre Larouche, who founded with band in 2001 with drummer Hugo Veilleux. The other guitarist is Nathanaël Labrèche, and also on drums is Julien Daoust, with Vincent Savary on bass.

Le Sens De La Fin is not Bisbâyé’s first album, having previously released two EPs and two albums (Gestalt, 2013; Synkronik, 2016), although this is their first album with Cuneiform Records, and it is an excellent release indeed. Le Sens De La Fin is truly a complex and layered album, and one that feels like it was composed specifically for those who not just enjoy highly technical instrumental work, but also for those who are capable of handling a chaotic tornado of drums and musicality. Right from the opening track, Créosote, the lawful, orderly listener will be struck by just how chaotic and unusual Bisbâyé’s sound can be. It is a warning of sorts for those who do not like dissonant time signatures and polyrhythms, sending them away on a train far away from here as fast as they can go.

Confronting, dense riffs pair with the drumwork of both Daoust and Veilleux to create a track that feels like the musical embodiment of stress itself, particularly where our drummers feel like they are engaged in Mortal Kombat, unleashing relentless combos on one another. The winner of that match is of course the listener, unless of course the listener is one seeking easy listening – in which case, Daoust and Veilleux will have both achieved a flawless victory. This is followed by the madness-inducing time signature clashes of Le Sens De La Fin, the title track that only seems to escalate the sound we are introduced to by the album’s opener Créosote.

In spite of all the incredibly dense, layered arrangements, the band does go beyond its emphasis on polyrhythms and dissonance in this album to deliver some subtle grooves and emotions that become more apparent with every listen. Yes, Bisbâyé are able to deliver us some of the most brilliant work in terms of sheer instrumental talent that we’re likely to hear all year, but questions of artistry and emotion often abound when these sorts of albums are released. Bisbâyé do not disappoint on that front either.

Tracks like Resister show that Bisbâyé are truly skilled composers, able to convey emotions and ideas through sheer instrumentals. This is, after all, an album without any vocals or lyrical performances whatsoever. Many an artist can compose music, and some can even do so with the height of technical ability. Among them, many struggle to create tracks that are transformative in their ability to change a space from somewhere one can hear music into a space where one can, by listening to music, develop new ideas about themselves and the world around them.

In Resister, uplifting chord progressions and upbeat drums give way to competing guitars that maintain the dissonant polyrhythms this album is remarkable for, but somehow through a combination of the pitch and progression throughout the track, no matter how frantic things get, there is a sense of hope throughout. There is a feeling of urgency all the while, an indication that it is important we push forward and fight for the future. There are in fact ways we can improve the world, and if we work together, we can achieve a better world for everybody. Interestingly, these themes were noted solely from listening to Resister before finding out that Larouche had them in mind when conceiving of and writing the album.

Tracks like Le bienfait devient fléau and Soliton carry their own moods and emotions, as much of the album does. It is no surprise the band recommends a few listens, because there is so much in each track to unpack both musically and after a few listens, thematically and emotionally. Larouche noted that with the world’s new ‘withdrawal into individualism’ there is a feeling of an impending sense of an end (hence the album’s title), pushing us into an increasingly individualistic sense of despair and hopelessness. That brings us full circle back to the second track, Le Sens De La Fin and its deep sound evocative of stress.

This all becomes more apparent the more one listens, and so it is no surprise that the band recommends we let go of our preconceptions so that we can dive headlong into the listening experience and explore new possibilities and ideas. This pandemic has coincided with the increasing excesses of capitalism to create a disturbingly individualistic society that has produced a variety of artwork, such as in games like Death Stranding. Musically, Bisbâyé have made the right choices to complement the themes which they had in mind. The dissonant sound and, to borrow a Dream Theater term, ‘systematic chaos’ that is omnipresent throughout the arrangements on Le Sens De La Fin combines with thematic and emotional content to produce an album that is truly excellent. If you’re a fan of progressive metal and experimental rock, you absolutely cannot miss this album.

I hope you enjoy Le Sens De La Fin.

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https://cuneiformrecords.bandcamp.com/album/le-sens-de-la-fin-the-sense-of-an-ending

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