Album: The Necrophone Sessions
Label: Roman Numeral Records
Release Date: 26/02/2021
Hemlock Smith and Les Poissons Autistes have joined forces again for their third collaborative album The Necrophone Sessions. The album is set to be released on February 26th via Roman Numeral Records, in partnership with Trespasser PR.
Hemlock Smith is the project of Lausanne, Switzerland singer, songwriter and composer Michael Frei, the project primarily plays an experimental bran of dark folk music. Les Poissons Autistes also hails from Switzerland and is made up of Philippe Simon and Stéphane Babey. They play an experimental blend of noise, field recordings, electronic, ambient and acoustic music. This is the third collaborative effort between the two entities and follows their 2018 full-length The Ghost Parade.
On their own both of these projects create impressively innovative music, but together they are even stronger. The fusion of their two distinctive styles gives birth to something beautiful, something that really stands out as utterly unique.
I have to say right off the bat that I’m a huge fan of Michael Frei’s vocal style, it’s extremely varied and changes frequently, adding even more diversity to the album. For the most part he has a deep and somewhat gravelly tone with a bluesy/folky sort of tone to it. It times takes on more swagger and energy and brings to mind Mike Patton of Faith No More and Mr Bungle (among other projects.) Another style he uses is a bit more nasally and higher pitched and if I had to compare it to someone’s vocal style, the closest I can bring to mind are Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins or Brian Molko of Placebo. Then we have the spoken work parts which have a very different tone to them and Michael’s Swiss accent comes through a little more.
The instrumentals on the album are even more varied and diverse, changing constantly. Not only is each song completely different, but within each track we have a large spread of different styles and influences. We shift from atmospheric, swooning dark ambient tones working in tandem with drone elements to more upbeat dark pop segments, to dark folk parts and noise-based segments. There are some tracks on the album that have an upbeat electronic tone to them, there’s a certain bounce and energy present and a catchiness that will have you coming back for more. Other’s though are far darker and more depressing, these are slower and more minimalistic for the most part and feature a lot of spoken word elements. Across all of these though there is a heavy focus on atmosphere and a constant feeling of innovation and experimentation.
The number of varied textures expertly strung together on the album is what makes it truly great. Anyone can slap sounds together and layer tracks, loops and samples, but a true mark of greatness is the ability to combine extrmely varied styles of music and have the progressions between them feel natural or if they share space to have the union feel like it too is natural. I’m happy to say that this album effectively does both of these things. The other thing that really makes the album stand out is the project’s ability to build and maintain atmosphere. Their music is highly immersive and really makes you feel each track that you listen to in a unique way from the rest. In regard to this trait, track 7 Black Friday has to receive specific praise. The 13-minute track is a perfect example of how to build atmosphere, with the song constantly evolving and growing as the track progresses.
Overall, this is a truly impressive piece of music and I guarantee you that you won’t listen to anything else quite like it. If you’re a fan of experimental and boundary pushing music that has a heavy focus on atmosphere, then you will love this release. Just go into it with an open mind, because I can guarantee you that it’s not going to be what you expect it to be.
Listen to and order the album below:
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Find all relevant band and label links below:
Hemlock Smith & les Poissons Autistes: Official