That viciously compelling, and invigoratingly indescribable Montréal ensemble Suuns should begin the follow up their début full-length, Zeroes QC, with a track entitled Powers of Ten immediately seems directly emblematic of an irrefutable progress. For Images Du Futur is, again, the sound of a band realising, and in turn opening up to their full potential to project a violently excellent self-portrayal of schizophrenic devastation and sporadic combustion.
Though restraint has always been a key chromosome in Suuns’ genetic makeup. It’s reflected in the rippling, sometimes snarled but otherwise importunately spat vocal of Ben Shemie; in the creeping influence of electronica pooled from the mind of microKORG wunderkind Max Henry; in the terse stabs of guitar to have ravaged their every previous. Powers of Ten, however, is an absolute bastard spawned of altogether alien genes: Shemie’s vocal is neither sung nor spoken, but instead smeared impressionistically like an iridescent blur of Cadillac across the Mojave Desert. Joseph Yarmush – often enwrapped in the requisite aviators for such a setting even when encountered indoors – thrashes away at a tensed Telecaster with a visceral, and indeed again vicious urgency before the thing spontaneously erupts around the minute mark. There is therefore zero restraint demonstrated on Powers of Ten as rampant and unbridled, the four-piece exponentially up their stock, even right from the very off.
And there are all-pervasive intimations of change painted over these Images Du Futur: its minimalist climax, Music Won’t Save You, proves an ominous throb of rudimentarily rendered electronic drums and unshakable undulations as Shemie disdainfully sneers: “I saw you there with the light in your eyes/ Yeah, you were singing about something.” His tongue forked and his slur harsh, it’s a perhaps more lucid condemnation of contemporary music than they’ve ever previously touched upon, and it makes for a pretty damn crystalline conflation of the electronic and the organic – a staple of their technique so immovable that it’s now coated in an impenetrable patina of rust.
Though Images Du Futur is, as its title so transparently intimates, the palpable sound of galvanised progress and the versatility that Shemie et al. this time illustrate is to be admired as much as it is to be addressed. For if they were once Armed For Peace, then this is (at least momentarily) an incontrovertibly conflictual listen. It comes to epitomise a subversive interpretation of the difficult second album, in that it makes for an agitated experience which, although understated, stipulates an undivided attention when unleashed to stimulate. It’s the antithesis of easy listening, and the restive guitars and wretched pitches bent beyond cerebral recognition on 2020 make for one of its more enervating instances, Shemie’s coochie coo shushing only heightening the discombobulating exhaustion it so relentlessly provokes.
Further change is elucidated as we explicate its artwork: whereas Zeroes QC came bundled up in a monochromic, and mostly dead-black image of an amorphous model, that on the face of Images Du Futur that bit more conspicuously depicts a visage of a rather more androgynous disposition. It’s a patent reflection of a band to have cleaned up their act and since honed their identity, with an air of ambiguity concertedly kept to only exacerbate the unease Suuns now so unmistakably stand for. But it is so too an insinuation of the band having shaken loose the lingering gloom to have bedevilled the début somewhat: Mirror Mirror is almost luminescent by comparison, as a woozy vocal sprawls itself out atop languid guitars and trucking drums. So too Edie’s Dream, with its muffled prog aesthetic and glinting, unwaveringly major key refrain signals a shift to a sunnier collective outlook. “It’s so real/ This way I feel/ Facing visions/ It takes years for things to change” Shemie subduedly bristles, a curtain-like ruffle cutting through his voice whilst his words lend an impression of this change in perspective being less concerted, and more an inexorable inevitability. The sensations were there and perhaps had been for quite some time, and to further repress them would have been absolutely impossible, or so it would seem. It thus makes for a brilliant, and indeed enlightening recording in the every respect of each respective adjective.
Though murkier hues still daub the album: Minor Work is as though Caribou’s Swim drenched in a groggy doom and hounded by siren-like synth modulations, whilst Sunspot is the unlikely point on a rugged horizon at which insistent afrobeat and inebriated techno intersect. So too its title track – a dark ambient drone enduring three thirty-six – hints at a dingier future, or rather ‘Futur. However, hidden in the depths of the record are two standout compositions to best dispel the notion of Suuns being a beast to disintegrate in the suunlight, and up first is the equal parts bounding and broody stalk of Bambi: a grim brew of flatulent beats, flattened snares, disquietingly layered sighs and the finest riff they’ve as yet come out with, you can do away with the “A, and a B, and a C, and a D” Shemie expels, for it’s a concise A–Z as to how and why Suuns are quite such an essential prospect. It’s followed up with the slowly gyrating and impulsively seductive Holocene City – a pseudo-futuro pomp stomp to illuminate your life and enliven your ears like a slive of morning sun massaging itself into your muddied carpet.
The ‘Futur remains unrelentingly bright for Suuns and if you’ve yet to frazzle in their radiance, never has there been a better time.
Released: March 4th, 2013 [Secretly Canadian]